Even in 2015, racial issues still persist

Gabriani Bertrand, Reporter

On Sept. 16, 2015, a University at Buffalo student named Ashley Powell debuted her art piece. The problem was it featured 1965 ‘Whites Only/Blacks Only’ adornments decorating the hallways. Yes, she bravely, and thoughtfully addressed the big elephant in the room, by making whites, blacks and all those in between uncomfortable as they strolled over to their favorite fountains or bathrooms for some “private time.”

At first, I was totally taken aback, furious even, but now I realize that Powell made all of us think. I have come to one big conclusion: this had to happen.

Now I am not saying that whites and blacks cannot be together, nor am I saying that segregation should be re-established, nor am I saying that I am a racist. But, I believe in racism. It is real and everyone should get over this fear, this voice in the back of our heads that tells us not to believe.

Therefore, we should be examining everyday life and trying to make a big change.

I grew up on Long Island, New York in a not-so-great town. However, I was lucky enough to attend a Catholic school 30 minutes away from the environment I grew up in. Although no one really spoke about it, most people of color stayed with other people of color.

Most noncolored people stayed with other noncolored people. I, for the most part, did not notice this “socially acceptable segregation.” That was until my high school sociology teacher asked us why we were all so segregated and we all took a second to say, “Wait, what?”

Yes, people gravitate to those that are the same as them, so they will tend to mingle, marry, and stay with people that are the same race as them. That can answer why we were so segregated at my old high school, and even answer why most of us are segregated here at Buffalo State. But, it cannot excuse why this still happens.

We as a society are way too comfortable with this. We have to open up our minds and walk straight out of this comfort zone. Hundreds of black lives being laid down, for simply not understanding, because we all want to be where we have always been is not going to cut it.

We have to realize that it is easier to be noncolored, than it is to be colored with problems like black-on-black crime, police brutality, and social out-casting. Now reader, let me explain the last of those three.

1.) Black/African features are considered the ugliest of all the races. Our curly hair (that both men and women now embrace) has been kept short or chemically straightened, our nose too wide and our lips too full. (Although full lips are considered generally beautiful on all other races.) Lastly, our skin is too dark and dangerous, since darker skin means manual labor.

2.) People who are not of color think that it is cool to be black. Because we are all thugs, have attitudes, are overtly sexual/ sex gods, are aggressive/criminals and are here for noncolored people’s glorification.

3.) When we have troubles, no one wants to listen to us, and it always goes back to blaming us for the same old stereotype (see above).

They will never have to be negatively stereotyped as one thing for their entire lives, because of their non-color. Being black means that you can only be an “n-word”, a big-lipped, big-nosed gorilla obsessed with rap music. While, for those that are not of color, can identify with various different groups that do not have to do with their race: rock, emo, punk, jock, nerd, etc.

As a black person, if you try to not be tied down by the stereotypes associated with your race you will be labeled as “acting white” (which is totally unbelievable and outrageously crazy).

You can “act white,” your entire life and think you have finally found the right path, but sometimes you can be pulled over to the side of the road. You can comply with the police. You can be arrested and not resist. You can be photographed and you can be beaten to death inside a jail cell. Sometimes, you are just unlucky enough to be another Sandra Bland.

The blame is not going onto the police; it is on to all of us, for not trying hard enough. If noncolored people just acknowledge our struggle, if we were more represented with culture as something other than thugs.

If we’re to look past the differences in each of us, we would not be so afraid to admit that racism exists. The need for social change is great in our country.

Although black people have been fighting for years, we are still standing up. Although noncolored people have not walked the same steps as colored people, and do not understand why we are still fighting, you can help.

You can start by standing outside of your comfort zone. Be as uncomfortable as possible and take down those invisible ‘White Only,’ ‘Black Only’ signs that society has built to keep us away from each other.

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