I was hesitant in sharing this story, but I decided to do so because it is important for all people to know that these experiences do happen.
The other day I was walking calmly to Sherman. I was planning on eating brunch. On my way there, I talked to my dad on the phone. An adult man suddenly interrupted me. He called me over, and no, he was not Caucasian. His race does not matter. What does matter is the fact that he was not a student. I at first did not want to go to him. My initial thought was, “um… stranger danger. I shouldn’t go to him.” I tried to ignore him, but he kept calling me and gesturing me to come over. I looked at him. I thought to myself he’s being persistent. It might be important. I should go over there and see what he wants. He might be looking for directions.
I walked over to him. A huge mistake that was. He asked me if I was a custodian. He wanted me to clean something up.
I blinked and stared. I could not speak. I tried so hard to process what he had told me. It was hard for me to do so. Let me explain why for those who may not understand.
I am a young Latina woman. I have brown skin, and I am proud of it. I know the color of my skin is beautiful. Sometimes, however, I encounter people who have prejudice and believe in stereotypes. These people do not see who I am. They see the stereotypes.
The man who called me over was one of these people. He saw my skin and saw that I was Latina. He automatically assumed I was a custodian. This bothered me a lot. It bothered me because I was not even wearing the uniform. I was wearing jeans and a gray sweater. It was normal, everyday clothing. This man also didn’t even take into account my age, didn’t consider the possibility of my being a student. It was messed up because it goes on to show that even after the countless sacrifices my family and I have made so that I can attend college, there are still some people who with small acts belittle the hard work my parents and I put into my education.
After not being able to speak, this man thought I did not understand and dismissed me. I walked away. I mean, what else was I supposed to do? Scream at his face and say no? I honestly was still in shock. What makes me the saddest about this experience is the fact that my dad heard all of this through the phone. He witnessed his daughter, his pride and joy, experience racism first hand. No parent should ever have to because it shouldn’t even happen in the first place. There are people who sincerely believe that the issue of racism has gotten better, but for those who believe so, let me ask you this. If I experience this on campus, a safe haven for all its students, how will I be treated in the outside world?
Racism is not over yet. We need to be aware of this. We also need to be mindful of our comments and actions.
This experience caught me off guard, but know for sure that I am not ashamed of who I am or how I look like. I love my brown skin, and I will forever love it. Morena y orgullosa siempre seré yo.