As I am not a minority race in the United States, I feel shameful in trying to discuss racial discrimination and its prevalence. In my mind, my doing so is comparable to the offspring of Nazi soldiers attempting to describe the struggles of holocaust victims’ offspring. I simply have no credibility here because I have not faced the kind of discrimination that still plagues blacks, Asians, Hispanics, and even Indians in the United States. Further, as much as I believe that I put myself forward without judgment or prejudice, I will never know how deeply the views and actions of my grandparents, great-grandparents, and earlier ancestors have influenced me. Thus, I try every day to educate myself on other populations (in the U.S. and around the world), to slowly rid myself of ignorance and to ultimately become as understanding and transparent as I can be.
Chapter 1 of Eduardo Bonilla-Silva’s Racism without Racists is a particularly unsettling example of current racism in the United States, as he explains that withdrawing support, resources, and opportunities from minority populations is the 21st century version of the blatant abuse that was occurring just 50 years ago. His writing emphasized to me that I have a responsibility to help stop this. With regard to inclusivity, I cannot cite any specific situations, but I am always open to meeting, working with, and making friends with people. If I have learned anything in my life, it is that people are valuable because of their character, and as I get to know people, they become more and more appealing because of their resilience, morals, intelligence, wit, and values. When my father passed away, I remember looking at his body and realizing that humans are nothing more than the intricacies of their minds. Our thoughts, our ideas, our dreams – they are our substance, abstract and incredible, able to exist only because because our bodies exist to house them. People invent, write, paint, design, study, and develop extraordinary technology all because of their brains, yet we judge and discriminate based on the houses of these brains.
In particular, it seems that people discriminate against certain races most when they do not have any personal connections to people of this race. And for this reason, I am so thankful that the University of Oklahoma provides plenty of organizations to connect students. In particular, OU Cousins has been the most amazing experience for me. It is an organization that pairs international students with OU students who are native to the United States. In doing so, each party develops a personal relationship with someone from a different background and consequently learns about the culture and life of the other student. My OU Cousin Xuelian is from China, and we bonded very quickly through the program. Because I came from a very uncultured home environment, meeting Xuelian and gaining an intimate perspective of her life stressed to me the importance of cultural awareness and tolerance.
Inclusivity will always be of the utmost importance to me, and as I continue with my college degree, I will continue to advocate for total equality and tolerance. One of my favorite quotes regarding race comes from famous scientist and writer Bill Nye. In this quotation from his commencement speech at Rutgers University, he emphasizes that race is just a social construct, a separation of people based on one of our most minute differences. He says,
“Along with the evidence of common sense, researchers have proven scientifically that humans are all one people. We’re a lot like dogs in that regard. If a Great Dane interacts (can we say interact?) with a Chihuahua, you get a dog. They’re all of the same species. Same with us. The color of our ancestors’ skin and ultimately my skin and your skin is a consequence of ultraviolet light, of latitude and climate. Despite our recent sad conflicts here in the U.S., there really is no such thing as race. We are one species — each of us much, much more alike than different. We all come from Africa. We all are of the same stardust. We are all going to live and die on the same planet, a Pale Blue Dot in the vastness of space.”
To me, this sums up the truth of race, and I hope that more people will begin to view it this way.