Biola needs more conversation about discrimination
Benita Fatusin discusses racial discrimination and considers the importance of seeing someone as more than their ethnic group. | Photo courtesy of Benita Faustin
It seems that Biola rarely discusses racial discrimination. Since several cultural diversities exist on campus, it seems inevitable that some students will feel that they have experienced different treatment from others in certain situations because of their heritage.
As a student with a diverse cultural background, I have been judged or misperceived because of the racial stereotype people seem to hold. This has been especially true in communities where a predominant ethnicity exists. I have always had to make a conscious effort to prove myself. My cultural upbringing diminishes my value in the eyes of most people because they perceive Africa as a poor and corrupt continent. And this kind of racial discrimination seems to be widespread.
Two weeks ago, I hosted some friends in my dorm. We stood outside my room talking and two girls passed by, looking at me like something was wrong with me. I did not know why until I overheard one of the girls make a comment concerning my shorts. Thousands of girls wear shorts at Biola. Yet for some reason, my wearing shorts was inappropriate.
When I told my African American friend about the incident I experienced, she told me that she had experienced similar treatment. She recalled the way students stare at her and the clothes she wears. She said she felt a difference between the way students from other ethnicities greet her — in an awkward way — and greet the next person quite vibrantly. This difference in behavior seemed to stem from differences in cultural heritage.
My African-American friend lives in a triple occupancy room on campus and her roommates are both Asian. They connected instantly without making much of an effort to include her in the things they do. My friend prefers to spend most of her time indoors. However, her Asian roommates spend most of their time outside of the room so they assumed my friend was lazy. In fact, her roommate had this conversation about her in their room while she lay on her bed awake. She felt disrespected and judged because they had not gotten to know her.
We tend to judge ourselves based on racial stereotypes, forgetting that the act of stereotyping is itself racial discrimination. It is easier for people to make assumptions about your personality than for them to get to know you. But by doing this we miss out on intercultural knowledge and meeting great personalities. I encourage us all to continue to learn more open-minded towards students of different ethnicities and not judge or make assumptions about them.
I feel Biola needs to shine more light on the issue of racial discrimination. Biola’s mission is to teach us to think biblically in every situation. We should not see ourselves as member of a particular racial or ethnic group but as unique individuals in Christ.