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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.

Your Turn.  Post a Comment

  1. Interested Reader

    Hello Benita,

    I read your article and was wondering if you would be able to help me understand a few things. I may have missed something as I am having trouble understanding how you are connecting race to the experiences you listed. I do not intend to diminish your experience, but I genuinely am not seeing the connection. Maybe you could elaborate on the situations as there may be more going on in those situations than what a reader would see that would make you feel like you or others are being discriminated against based on race.

    For example, with your friend being hurt by her roommates calling her lazy because she stays indoors. I can see how some people who enjoy the outside more could wrongly make that assumption about anyone who prefers to stay indoors -I totally agree that is so wrong and people ought not to make assumptions, what I wonder though is where you are getting the impression that it is about race. Did they explicitly say something about race? Could it be that they wrongly assumed your friend was lazy simply because she stayed indoors? Maybe adding these contextual details would help "flesh-out" and help your readers understand what you are trying to communicate. Otherwise, and I am not saying you are intending to do this, it may seem to a reader that we are jumping to conclusions and assumptions about this being about race without more details. It could very well be about race and that is unfortunate and I totally agree with your premise, I am merely having trouble tracking with how you came to the conclusion that the issues presented were about race solely based on your article.

    Basically, I think giving more context to the article would really help myself and other readers understand what you are trying to communicate. Blessings sister! Thank you! October 24, 2014

  2. Greg Leith

    Well said Benita! October 25, 2014

  3. Greg Leith

    hey there "interested reader"! Why not say who you are? October 25, 2014

  4. Interested Reader

    Hello Greg,

    I appreciate your interest in my name. However, I am not trying to put my name out there. I am simply trying to give some positive ideas to the writer to strengthen her articles and help myself and others better understand what she is seeking to convey in her writing.

    Its a great premise and a good topic. I think her argument could really be strengthened by working on bridging that gap between the experience and how it connects to race -possibly more specifics and details would allow the readers to understand her point of view and bridge that gap to achieve understanding. Maybe some more fleshed out examples as I mentioned above. Maybe focusing on one experience really well, instead of multiple, and giving those details that support her conclusion that this is about race, and not just about difference of environmental preference, would really get her point to hit home.

    Based purely on the information provided, it could come across as some assumptions are being made on Benita's end. Again, I am definitely not saying that is the case, it simply can come across that way.

    Ultimately, my aim is to help Benita strengthen her case in order to help her readers or others she desires to share her experience with bridge that gap to understanding how racial discrimination is the case in these situations. Or if it is not, to look back and reflect on the details in her experience and question if she is making an unintended assumption. Again, not saying she is -I do not intend to imply that- rather, I merely hope to offer some constructive feedback for her to consider and strengthen her writing to reach more people. This is a great topic and one I am happy to see Biola students engaging in and bringing light and healing to, Keep it up! Blessings!
    October 25, 2014

  5. Greg

    Interested reader.....still comes across like hiding to my thinking October 30, 2014

  6. benita fatusin

    thanks greg! November 25, 2014

  7. benita fatusin

    hi reader,

    i wrote this article because i felt the issue was racially based. it is my opinion and in regards to your question of why i think it is a racial issue, i observed the social interaction among people around campus for three weeks before i wrote this article so i interviewed lots of students.i could not mention every persons opinion in my article because we have limited word space so i included the one i felt gave more illustration on the issue.i hope this answers your question! :) November 25, 2014

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