Racism in College

As I sit here and think about the topic of racism against Native Americans attending college, I am reminded of my own experiences as a student and a child in elementary, middle, and high school. Were my schools all bad and inundated with episodes of racism? Not at all. Was racism non-existent in my schools? Not at all. Did my experiences with racism keep me from becoming who I wanted to become or from working my butt off to get through school and out into the working world? Not at all.

My point is this: I know that racism against Native American students attending college exists. It does. And it can be a very traumatic and harrowing experience for the students involved. However, these incidents of racism do not have to be the end of the road for Native American students attending college.

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Yes, racism is awful and should not happen, nor exist – but it does. I have seen schools, students, and even those in the communities affected by racism all working together to confront specific incidents of racism in an effective, productive manner, and helping everyone to work through it – and ending with the student remaining in college.

Unfortunately, I have experienced the opposite as well, where episodes of blatant racism are seemingly brushed away out of the public eye. It seems that every year there is a scandal involving racism at colleges somewhere around the U.S. The American Indian Education Foundation understands the obstacles, including latent or blatant racism that many of our scholarship recipients have had to overcome in order to attend college.

It is not fair that these students encounter racism. But, it is incredibly inspiring to see the perseverance that they possess. They forge ahead and continue to pursue their dreams. We experience a sense of optimism when our determined scholarship students continue to succeed, against all obstacles, and realize their dreams, it is awesome.

So, as I sat and contemplated how to address a topic that has had untold volumes of books written about it, I realized that you cannot solve the world’s problems in a one-page tome. So I will close by saying this: It appears that racism, in all of its ugly complexity, can have no singular, or final, resolution. The United States has passed legislation, communities have formed action committees, and yet racism continues to plague us. It seems to be here for the long haul. Or is it?  Let’s not give up trying or lose hope that there is an enduring solution out there somewhere!

So, what can we do?

Well, I think it’s just a matter of working to change each other’s minds about who we are—and believing that if we keep working together to quell racism, one day it may perish from the earth. Idealistic? Perhaps. Easy to achieve? Absolutely not. Worth working to eliminate? It is imperative that we try!

 

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