I walked into history class last Tuesday, grabbed a light blue colored syllabus and sat down, half-awake, at my desk. History is second period for me, and let’s just say it is the longest forty-three minutes of my day. There is always a PowerPoint, accompanied by the annoyingly loud voice of my tiny, 5-4 teacher going on and on about our latest topic. Surprisingly, today was different. The bell rang. We took our seats. Everybody reached for their binders bracing themselves against the PowerPoint full of “important” information that needed to be copied down. And then the teacher handed us a survey. Great, I thought, another attempt at getting us to express our opinions. The survey was titled “How Much Discrimination Do You Experience?” The title stopped me in my tracks. I am sad to say that my first thought, as was probably the thought of the rest of my predominantly white class, was something along the lines of, ‘discrimination is no longer a problem. It’s 2008.’ But then I read through the survey. “I can turn on the TV or open to the front page of a newspaper and see people of my race, ethnicity, or gender widely represented.” Well, yeah; I circled true. “I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.” This question evoked a feeling of uneasiness. Were there really people who couldn’t go shopping alone simply because of their race? “I can choose blemish cover or bandages in ‘flesh’ color and have them more or less match my skin.” This question made me sick. There are no black band-aids. The most disturbing part of the whole band-aid ordeal is the use of the term “flesh” to describe white. Is the skin of an African American less entitled to be called flesh than the skin of a white person? No. White America creates programs, institutes state tests, “diversifies” all to deny the fact that racism is still a problem. But they only make “flesh” band-aids. Externally, there isn’t discrimination based on color or gender but internally white is equated with normal leading to subconscious racism. This I believe.
I fear attempts to eliminate discrimination have only heightened it. Colleges today are obsessed with diversifying, making it harder for middle class white males to get admitted. Although I can understand the need to “level the playing field,” diversifying simply shifts discrimination from the minority to the majority and makes more apparent their differences. Every time I fill out an application, I come to the dreaded box questioning my ethnicity. As I check off the white/Caucasian box, I get the sneaking feeling that I am screwing myself over. Surely an African American female with my same credentials is more appealing to Harvard; she would be able to diversify their campus. I believe that until society can stop subtly reminding us that skin color does make people different, America cannot truly overcome racism.
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