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Not the Colors of the Rainbow

by Oulimata

I’ve been hearing a lot about color, and not the colors of the rainbow, I’m talking about skin color. The black that makes me who I am, the black that follows me everywhere I go.

I never noticed how much everything in my life was affected by my skin color until I got to a high school surrounded by black kids and black teachers, in a black neighborhood. I also went to an after school program where I was surrounded by black kids, with a mostly white staff. I felt out of place every time one of them spoke to me, like I was being talked down to or getting judged because of my skintone.

Learning about race in school made the whole thing just seem stupid to me somehow. Why do we have racism? Why do white people think the are somehow “better” than us black people because of their light skin? Why are black men seen as criminals? And why is it okay for white people to say "you’re pretty for a black girl." What does being black have to do with being pretty? Why are big lips ugly on black woman but sexualized on white woman?

I can’t help but imagine how my college years will go. I’ve been in a comfortable in my neighborhood all my life, surrounded by black people and other minorities. I’m getting ready now to head off to college knowing that it’s going to be at least 60% white people on campus and probably around 10% black people. How will I be comfortable in such a new environment, one that’s so different from what I’m used to.

I hope you won’t label me just another angry black woman for saying this, but I don’t think colleges actually know what diversity is. I’ve been screwed by the education system for most of my life, with teachers who don’t care about anything other than their paycheck, and a DOE that never funds schools with the materials that students need to do their work. I’m not looking forward to four more years in a school with rich white kids who are ignorant to the problems that I face as a black woman in America. Why do I have to prove myself to these kids who believe that me getting into the college was some sort of hand out to bring about more diversity into the campus? Why should I have to feel uncomfortable or out of place for the sake of an education?

Commentary by Bernice Arricale

Racism is real and racism is pernicious. It undermines confidence and sours everyday interactions. Oulimata has reason to be angry, to be sure, but is avoiding white people a reasonable solution?

Is her assessment of the white college population accurate?

Oulimata asks us some questions; what would you say to her?