Everyday experiences of students of color should be discussed, not shied away from

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is a PWI, which means this school is a Predominantly White Institution. It is not hard to conclude that the majority of the students at UW-Madison identify as being white. 

Over the weekend, there was an online conversation on the popular UW Memes Facebook page that was discrediting the experiences that students of color have at this PWI. Speaking for myself as a person and student of color on this campus, I don’t need to prove to anyone that racist acts have happened to me. I don’t owe anyone any sort of explanation. Second-year Chancellor’s Scholar Samone Hall said it best. She said, “If you’re not a person of color, then don’t speak on how a person of color should feel.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. 

If you want to continue to be blind to the explicit acts of hate, discrimination and prejudice that happens on a daily basis at our school, that’s your own problem. I don’t owe anyone anything. Whether you want to believe students of color or not, Madison, WI is not as progressive as it is advertised to be. This is not to say that students of color don’t have some white allies, but there is still a significant amount of people who don’t see that there is a problem. 

People who continue to turn a blind to all of this are in return perpetuating the system of oppression. Being a student of color in itself is an experience as a whole. As I sat at the library having a conversation with one student of color, she said, “It’s a privilege not having the person of color experience.” Not having to work twice as hard to prove yourself because of your ethnicity or color of your skin is a privilege. Students of color don’t want sympathy from anyone; what they want is for people to be held accountable for their actions and to call out these acts as they are. 

Kevin Crosby, a DC Posse Scholar said, “It’s much harder than it seems, it takes a lot of energy to have to try and be perfect.” POC have to work twice as hard to be recognized for their accomplishments in comparison to their white classmates. Why? Why do students of color continue to be subjected to additional pressures in the form of perfection being treated as the standard?  

There are many people around Madison that question the presence of POC on campus. Students of color are often asked, “What scholarship are you a part of?" or "What sport do you play?” as if they are not good enough to attend this university without having to be in a scholarship program or a part of a sports team. We are here because we are trying to get a quality education and better ourselves. We don’t owe anyone anything! If you don’t know what students of color deal with, then open your eyes because there is probably racism happening right in front of your face. 

Chelsea is a sophomore studying journalism and Spanish with a certificate in gender and women's studies. What can UW-Madison do to improve the experience of students of color on campus? Please send all comments to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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