Prejudice is a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience. Prejudice is when the resident assistant on your floor hears people being loud and walks to the room where the black girls live, because black girls are always loud, right? Prejudice is when you’re`walking to the library with your friends at night and public safety slows down and does not a double-take, but a triple-take; yet they roll right on past the white students. Prejudice is when your white professor says the N-word in class and tries to get the rest of the class to say it, claiming that it is only a word.
These are not hypotheticals. These are actual incidents that have happened to me and other black students at USF; incidents I’m sure other black students are all too familiar with. Every day is a struggle for us to break stereotypes, beat the statistics, and overcome the obstacles that society has placed in front of us. It is extremely frustrating to be at a school that claims to be about social justice when black students still have to deal with discrimination, prejudice, and racism.
Therefore, in order to prevent these incidents from happening, there are certain steps I hope USF will take. RA applications should have a portion dedicated to assessing if the applicant has prejudice against certain racial groups, through a series of questions asking how they feel about certain stereotypes and if they believe them to be true or not. The housing application should also ask how students feel about rooming with other races, because it is extremely dangerous to be putting black students and other students of color in the same rooms with white students who might have a problem with living with a student of color. Professors here should know that the N-word is not just a word and should know that if they are not black, they should not be using it or encouraging other students to use it.
USF pushes their diversity tagline so much, it begs the question: shouldn’t USF care more about how existing black students are doing, instead of touting how many it has now? Social change and social justice are not just about diversity, but equal opportunity for all. USF claims to be the gates to creating social change through the students they produce, yet they operate within a system that is still letting black students down.
While my experiences are only personal ones, they exemplify what black students go through on a campus that claims to be about social change and social justice. As we fight for social change and social justice out in the world, let us not forget about social change and social justice on campus. Let us all not forget that the discrimination, racism and prejudice that happens in the outside world is also happening on campus.