Racial segregation is a monster that now sleeps. Many people tend to think that racism is a thing of the past and poses no real threat in the 21st century. This is far from the truth. Racism is rampant and even exists within races.I am an adult West Indian man living in America, and everyday I face some kind of prejudice or discrimination from people just like me. It’s almost like you’re on a roller coaster, getting off is not an option. A feeling of entrapment lingers around me all the time and depression fills a place where happiness once lived. The emptiness makes me regret and wish I was in a different place. I had no idea that I would experience racial prejudice from my colored peers at a school that boasts the slogan ” where everybody is somebody.”
The funny thing is that I was so naive that I didn’t even recognize when I first experienced it. I thought that I had said or done something that offended the dorm parent in the residence hall where I went to check in. Needless to say it was an experience I will never forget, for it still lives quite vividly in the back of my mind. This experience that I have chosen not to go into full detail with was one of the many racially charged experiences that I had to deal with as an international student a Grambling State University.
I remember when I first started feeling like an outsider; I would walk around for weeks looking for visible differences in our features, and, at some point, even agreed that we really weren’t the same. I told my self, in an attempt to justify the treatment that our nostrils weren’t as flared and we had skin that was not so dark. Well most of us that is.
I guess we didn’t possess the traditional ethnic look of the modern day African American, so that made us subject to scrutiny. I started thinking that this might not even be a problem with international students per say, my lighter skin peers on campus might be dealing with similar occurrences as well.
You would think that people who had struggled with racism so much would be concerned for, and not neglect their own kind. Apparently, the Martin Luther King speech and the Rodney King beating only shed light on a problem from an outside force.
Every class that I attend quickly turns into a history class filled with African Americans fighting for rights during the renaissance, and stories of prominent men and women of color who made life easier for them today. Who makes life easier for the individual who shares the same skin but a different culture? Who helps ease our pain? Who promises international aliens a future free of segregation and ridicule?
It is so tiring to defend your accent, a constant issue for snickering and rhetoric. I tell myself that they are not at fault. But who is? Who are we to impose our culture on them, and then expect them to roll over and accept it?
They need more time to come to terms with our cultural differences, I say to myself Rome was not built in a day. But this has been my plight for three years. I have been here that long and have not managed to even chip that enormous iceberg that separates us.
Nothing has changed. I think this battle that international students are fighting is a loosing one, no one will ever truly understand how it is to walk the lonely path of an international student. I guess the comforting thoughts of graduation and a dream to return to some form of normalcy keeps us grounded and sane most of the time.