I would like to address the feedback I received from my last article.
But first, I would like to apologize if what I wrote offended anyone. By all means, that was not my intention.
With that said, I really hope I can better explain what I was trying to convey.
To do so, I want to talk about something that is often ignored or superficially addressed: internalized prejudice/racism.
While I was raised in a multiracial home, I am perceived, and thus have been socialized, as a white woman.
I want to make something clear: I do not subscribe to white supremacist principals, nor do I support any institutionalized forms of racism or oppression.
But I do not want to lie. Because I was socialized the way I was, I grew up subconsciously internalizing the stereotypes I saw in advertisements, movies, and T.V. shows, those supported by my school’s limited and biased textbooks, employment of the tracking system, and segregated student body, and the ones I was taught by my privileged family and friends.
Attending PWI’s all of my life, I have not had the resources, experience, nor education needed to really deconstruct the myths I have grown to subconsciously accept.
This is why I wanted to go to Spelman. I wanted to hear new perspectives and see new realities. I wanted to learn everything I had never been taught and unlearn everything I had.
And the first thing I had to unlearn was my concept of race.
Before attending Spelman, I thought the color of my skin would isolate me from all the other students. And while there have been instances in which the color of my skin has dominated interactions with other students, I have learned something very important: that it is not skin color, but rather culture, that determines commonality. And I believe what contributed most to my previous misconception was witnessing the tokenization of black students.
I am so sorry if it seemed I was suggesting that all black individuals are alike. I know this to be untrue and anyone who believes this has a lot of unlearning to do.
And the reason I wrote what I wrote was because I believe dialogue helps develop universal understanding. I believe it is impossible to live in an inclusive and just society without first acknowledging, and then invalidating, our own internalized prejudices. While I wish I was raised differently, I think it would be more irresponsible to ignore the impact and implications of my problematic upbringing than it would be to acknowledge and address any internalized prejudice/racism I may have.
To unlearn, I believe one needs to be introduced to the realities and histories often left untold. This is not to say one can simply sit about and wait for this process to happen. Rather, I believe it is an individual’s job to actively first acknowledge and then unlearn the problematic teachings of their upbringing.
Once again, I apologize if anything I have said has offended anyone.
Before Spelman, I was under the assumption I had done away with any problematic views or teachings; that I already lived in a deconstructed and race free reality and had already unlearned all that I needed to.
But I have realized that there is much more I need to unlearn. And I hope you understand that acknowledging this has not been easy. No one wants to admit they have work to do. But I know who I want to be and what I want to believe. And before I leave Vassar, I want to be able to honestly say I did everything I could to unlearn the problematic teachings of my past, for I believe I cannot be a true advocate for universal equality without first actively acknowledging the impact of my problematic upbringing.
Everything I have wrote thus far has been from my own personal experience. Please understand the interactions, feelings, and situations I have documented have been recorded to help keep track of my own learning and personal growth. I do not wish to depict others’ realities. I know what I need and have embarked upon my own journey.
With that said, I hope we can open up the floor to others, help them acknowledge any problematic views they may have, and urge them to do whatever they need to do to unlearn the problematic teachings of their past.