My Personal Growth In Dealing With Racism by Iluda
07 Apr 2020 1:51 PM
At Iowa State University, the conversations about racism tend to never end. However, this makes sense as the recent campus news tells us, students of color, to be aware. From the vandalism in dorms, racial slurs chalked on the sidewalks, and recently racial tension toward Asians caused by the CoronaVirus 19. With racism happening over and over again to people of color, how do we deal with it? Here are my personal stories along with my personal growth in dealing with racism.
Anger - I will be the first one to admit that I was not as mature as I am today when I was in high school. I would say that almost everyone had that “incident” in high school, for me, it was when the marching band and football team decided to kneel protesting police brutality my junior year. I was a part of the planning committee and believed we were capable of doing a good job. The administration got wind of the plan and they decided to intervene as the public perception was extremely controversial. They decided it would be best if we linked arms and marched off the field instead of kneeling. Since there was no other choice, we followed this direction. What we never expected was the backlash. A journalist got ahold of the information and put the school on blast nationally. Our teachers were shames, hate calls and emails poured in every day to the main office, and people demanded the names of the students who participated. The names were never released. I was frustrated and angry at those people who failed to understand our intention and reasoning, and I wanted them to just leave us alone, but even if they did was the problem we were originally protesting resolved?
Realization - Near the same time as the protest my best friend asked if a club focused on educating students of civil rights would catch on. My response was, “I don’t think it matters if it will catch on or not, we need this right now”. With the support of others, the club was founded. SACRE (Students Advancing Civil Rights Education) was founded in 2017. I had the honor to watch it grow into a club that hosted over 100 people every week at its general meetings and it also gave me the opportunity to present and discuss the struggles of an Asian-American. I quickly learned the huge impacts education had when it came to dealing with racism.
Resolution - Working part or full time while in school is hard. Working with that and at a predominately white workplace is even harder for a person of color. Dealing with racism with customers is one thing, but dealing with racism from a coworker or manager is even worse. My boss said something to make me feel extremely uncomfortable while under the influence outside of store hours. After all that I have been through in the past, I refused to let my emotions get the best of me. I knew that whatever I said at that moment would go unnoticed as he was under the influence and I was the only Asian-American in the room. I kept my emotions in check and waited for the right opportunity to talk about it. About a week afterward I spoke to him outside of working hours. I spoke to him respectfully as I do enjoy my paycheck, but assertively as I knew my worth. Without hesitation, he apologized quickly (Which is to be expected), but shockingly he went beyond that. He asked what we could do to help the business be more diverse and inclusive. I was shocked as I was preparing for backlash due to my previous experiences, but what I got was a beginning to progression for diversity and inclusivity.
Anger, reflection, and resolution was my personal journey on understanding how to deal with racism.
As Martín Luther King Jr. said, “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that,”