Columnist confronts subtle racism on campus

As a person who’s not perfect with verbal confrontation, especially when there’s an issue with race, ethnicity or any social injustice, I have a dire need to confront an issue — through writing.

I want to call out and confront mindless rubbish I’ve noticed over the past few weeks. Whether it is direct or indirect, I’ve noticed people — acquaintances, friends, strangers — dismissing my experiences and livelihood as a person of color.

According to Huffpost, “subtle racism” also known as “covert racism” is defined as “a person who has implicit racial or other negative attitudes towards another group.” It is described as “ambiguous” because the actions of an individual are “indirect and are often expressed through innuendo’s.”

I’ve noticed subtle racism over the past few weeks. It starts out as a supposed joke, it turns into a irritable situation, then there’s an excuse and apology that’s all but candid.

Here is the unpleasant reality of the issue and what I’ve personally experienced over the past few weeks and the reoccurring issues I’ve noticed over the past few years:

  1. My natural hair type, a curly and kinky mixture, is not easy to define. Then, I have a white friend with curly hair too but with a different hair texture. One day, it was raining, and I had to cover my hair because it’d get frizzy and curly if it was wet as she did the same. She told me, however, my curly hair isn’t as “bad,” and it was better than hers since it didn’t do “A and B.”

How do people know my hair type and the struggle I have with curls, especially from not learning how to deal with curly hair? Do people know the experience I had as I grew up hearing from everyone my mix of loose curls, kinks or whatever mix of curls were atop my head were deemed ugly? When straight hair was what was deemed “normal.”

I am still learning to love my curls and not feel ashamed of being me, yet my experiences as a person of color are being assumed and dismissed by others when I try to counter.

  1. Growing up with light skin, I wanted to be white as a child, as I wasn’t light enough to fit in, especially compared to my darker-skinned sisters and brothers, who were critiqued consistently. Or when people would say I “sound white,” and I act “civilized,” whatever these phrases meant, it dismissed who I was as a person of color; it was as if those two descriptors were what it meant to be human.

  1. When people say, “This is America, speak English.” Yes, I know a person may be joking, but know that there’s others out there who are afraid to even speak Spanish. I know I still am at times.

  1. When a person says the n-word, then decides to tell me, “You’re barely black, why do you care?” One night this past week, I heard girls in my residence hall scream the n-word, as if it’s naturally a part of their vocabulary.

I care because while they might not be using a hard “r” sound and just using an “a” sound at the end of “n—–,” however you pronounce the n-word, it has the same connotation. And regardless of the percent of African blood in me, the term is still accounted to me because even as a light-skinned person with a diverse background, I still would have been known as a “negro” or “mulatto” less than a century ago.

  1. The fact I write race-related columns and people want to call me out or twist my words to make it sound as if I’m the offender and say I need to stop being sensitive and get over it.

Honestly, I can think of various personal experiences to tell, and I can tell you, other people of color have similar experiences.

Please, when a person of color explains their personal experiences, don’t deny it and don’t try to change it. It’s not your experience to alter. What if someone tried to change what you’ve experienced or your life? That’s what happens when your racism is showing.  

People make a fool out of and shame themselves when this happens. It’s more than the n-word slipping from a mouth or telling a person of color to “get over” the past or that they have no right to be angry. It’s disgusting, loathsome and shameful, and it’s the seemingly endless racism that is showing through people. Need I say more?


It’s sickening, and if you can’t tell why I am passionate, yet pissed off, I’d like to have coffee and a civil talk with you.

If I had the time to, I’d continue to speak about the various things I have heard growing up and the things I am hearing on campus. I, for one, will not confront you each time you say the n-word, or wetback, or whatever offensive word you say. It’s not worth it to waste my breath if people won’t listen. My voice has been silenced, but these words never will be.

But take heed, there are consequences that follow if you are racist, even subtly racist. It is 2019, and people will not be silent anymore. Though I may not confront you each time about your subtle racism, think of all the people you will meet in this lifetime. There will be one person who will call you out on your rubbish, and it may not be pleasant.

I’m human, I have valid feelings and I bleed the same as each person on the face of the Earth. But when people dismiss the humanity of people of color, it’s repeating the history we’re still attempting to overcome.

People may choose to ignore the world, but they can’t ignore it persistently. I promise you, in your lifetime, you may read something you dislike, disagree with or get defensive, but you can’t ignore reality. To restate, we are repeating the history we’re still attempting to overcome; if you don’t realize this, then I’d advise to take a long look at the world around you.