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Why These Students Think Race Is The Most Important Issue On Campus
Contributing Writers: Ramona Davis '17, Annie Roberts '17, Nia Goodridge '17, Ethan Thayumanavan '17
March 9, 2016
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RAMONA DAVIS ’17:

I am a student of color, but I had never before been so aware of my race before coming to Deerfield. In contrast, the majority of my peers—who are not students of color—do not have any significant awareness of their own race. I think people gravitate toward places of comfort. And because we often classify conversations about race as too “uncomfortable” and choose to sidestep around this and other “uncomfortable” topics, we never dive beyond their surface. For example, the Deerfield MLK Day celebration was met with disinterest by some. Some members of the community disregard issues and current events that impact minority students. At Deerfield, the difference between the minority and majority is that the majority has the option to not care about the issues that affect the daily lives of many minority students. For the people who have this option, you should choose to care.

ANNIE ROBERTS ’17:

Deerfield is an incredibly diverse place, one of the most diverse places I have ever been. We have kids from all around the world who come from unique backgrounds, and yet while at Deerfield I have never been more aware of my race. At home, being black felt like just another part of me; here at Deerfield, it sometimes feels like a burden. This mostly happens when I feel like I’m fighting to get my peers to understand the importance of DBSA or the relevance of The Black Lives Matters Movement. At Deerfield, in such a tight community, we should not have to beg our peers to be open-minded or to try to understand new ideas. I believe that at Deerfield our differences should not become burdens, but should be celebrated.

NIA GOODRIDGE ’17:

People of shades of brown, yellow, and white populate Deerfield’s campus, yet during free time, these various shades form a color gradient across campus—from the Dining Hall to the Greer. It is a social divide that is visible yet intangible. Though we aim to create an inclusive community, the racial divide on campus is usually ignored by the unaware or invalidated by the aware. As a student of color at Deerfield, I believe issues surrounding race need to be addressed more on campus. Too often, we gravitate to those who look like us. On multiple occasions, I myself have chosen the table of color at a walk-through meal over a table of white peers because of this implicit bias. Being high school students in search of companionship, we assume that someone of the same skin tone will have more in common with us than someone who does not. By doing this we are not only increasing divisions in the student body, but also overlooking the beautiful connection we all share: being human.

ETHAN THAYUMANAVAN ’17:

Race. It’s one of the first things you see when you look at a person. Don’t tell me you’re “color-blind,” because you’re not. My race is part of my identity, so don’t tell me you refuse to acknowledge it. And no matter how open-minded you think you are, you make subconscious judgments based on what you see. On campus, being white can be equated with being normal. People of color often feel marginalized. The origins of this “white is right” attitude can be traced back through history. Just look at the Trail of Tears, the Jim Crow laws, the Chinese Exclusion Act. And today, the media reinforces this attitude further. Countless movies like 12 Years a Slave, The Blind Side, Lawrence of Arabia, and every Indiana Jones movie  tell stories of a white protagonist saving minority men and women who need the white person’s help. The media’s white savior complex reinforces the idea of white racial superiority. Everyone on campus, white and non-white, has the responsibility to move past this attitude. We must first acknowledge that race is part of an individual’s unique identity and then accept that while it makes people different, it does not make them unequal. I take pride in my race – I don’t need saving.