In “Whiteness in the Psychological Imagination” Dr. Jonathan Lassiter, a Psychology professor, wrote about whiteness in academia and its effects on students of color. There were many aspects of this piece that resonated with me, but none so more than when Dr. Lassiter referenced a conversation he had with a Black female classmate named Natasha. This conversation led Natasha to tears after Dr. Lassiter asked her how she was doing, and it was this moment that stuck out to me. And in response to her feelings of not belonging in academia, Dr. Lassiter responded saying, “we were not meant to be here. But we are…So cry, get mad, but use that to push you forward, to the top.” The idea that students of color do not belong in academia is not a new one. Students of color must fight for a seat in every classroom, they must be taught about their own history from people who do not look like them. They learn every day that they are not represented in academia, or any facet of the world, and their presence is ignored. To be a student of color in academia is to constantly be proving to white peers that we are just as, if not more, qualified than them and to get no credit for it. We are constantly fighting against the odds and pushing ourselves past limits that once seemed finite. Academia was not built with students of color in mind, but that has never stopped us from showing up and striving to be the best. Students of color bring so much into every conversation and deserve the spotlight that whiteness has received since the beginning, especially in academic spaces which we have historically been kept out of, which brings me to this question: why is there this need to gatekeep academia? People of all races should be represented, and whiteness has no place being looked at as the norm, it never did.
2 thoughts on “Education is for Everyone”
That line you referenced made me feel emotional as well. It broke my heart hearing Dr.Lassiter point out that they as a student and professor of color should not be there. Honestly, I wish I knew the answer to your question about why there is still a barrier between whites and students of color. And this goes into the job world as well. People of color are just as accomplished if not more and should be given the opportunities and position of power that they deserve. Maybe the answer is point blank saying these kinds of questions directly to people and not just questioning in our minds? The more people confronted with this issue, then maybe we can start making progress toward breaking down the walls that should not be there.
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