Have you ever stepped out of your comfort zone?
Have you ever been to a place where it seems that the harder you try to fit in, the easier it is for you to stand out?
When we attempt to step outside of our comfort zone, it can be challenging trying to find where exactly we fit in.
North Dakota State boasts a student population of 14,516. About 86 percent of that population is Caucasian. That leaves a slim 13 percent left as all other ethnic groups combined. Just 2 percent of the total population is African-American.
For contextual purposes, imagine being in a lecture hall of 200 students. Out of those 200 students, statistically there will be roughly five African-Americans.
Have you ever looked around a room of hundreds of people and only saw four other people that slightly resemble you? It can be intimidating.
There is a complete difference of cultures between people who were raised in the flat lands of the Midwest as opposed to someone raised in the urban city. Regardless of color, we are all different.
Different experiences make different people. However, being African-American at a historically Caucasian school is difficult. Each and every day an African-American wakes up, he or she has to overcome the color of their skin before he or she can even brush their teeth.
For instance, a good number of the 86 percent of Caucasians have not had regular interactions with people of color prior to being admitted to college. Because of this, we often get silly questions asked to us.
“Can I tell my friends back home that I am friends with a black person?” or “Can you teach me how to Dougie?” or “What sport do you play?”
You may see these questions and think, “What is wrong with these questions?” And for the most part, yes, they are harmless questions on their own. The problem lies in why there is a situation where these questions are the norm.
Why do some see skin color and automatically associate it with things such as acting, dancing and athleticism as if making friends with someone of color is equivalent to seeing a unicorn?
The strange looks walking along campus as if we should not be here grow tiresome. Walking at night and seeing multiple people completely go out of their way to cross the street to avoid an interaction with you begins to daunt on you. How can people see me as a threat to their safety when I have done nothing to give them that impression?
There are less than 2,000 people of minority at NDSU. Of those 2,000, only about 376 are African-American. There are less than 400 African-Americans that can relate to each other.
Even though we are so different, we are all still the same. We all have aspirations to graduate from college and make something out of our lives. It is time to quit seeing color and start seeing souls.
Let’s get this straight.
This is not racism.
We are all of the human race.
This is tribalism.
Somewhere along the line, we were categorized into tribes and were inappropriately named by the color of our skin.
So no, you cannot tell your friends from home that you are friends with a black person, tell them that you are friends with a good soul. No, I can not teach you how to Dougie because I don’t know how to myself. And no, I do not play any sports.
If a color is all we see, then a color will be all we ever are.