Project for Open Voices: “Racist Story”

The Thrill is proud to feature personal narratives courtesy of the Project for Open Voices. Today’s essay was authored by Jacqueline Neri ’13 for POV’s first publication.

During my first year at Kenyon, I had a very uncomfortable experience that made me doubt whether I was at the right school or not because of how different I was from everyone else culturally. I had never really experienced blatant acts of racism, but I had always been a supporter of anti-discrimination groups because I have always been aware that discrimination exists. One day I was sitting in the library doing homework in one of the cubicles by the entrance door and two white females were sitting across from me. They couldn’t see me, so I assume that they didn’t know I was there because I was studying very quietly by myself. They were having a normal conversation until one of them said something that made me really angry and sad at the same time.

Earlier in the week there had been an email from the CDO about an organization that was hiring college students for summer internships, and they encouraged bilingual students and multicultural students to apply because of the population that the organization worked with. One of the girls read part of this email aloud in a very sarcastic tone. I overheard her telling her friend that she thought it was unfair and stupid for the CDO to specifically focus their attention on multicultural students because we didn’t deserve it and we were taking opportunities from “them” (I assume she meant white students). It was extremely hurtful because she obviously thought that the race of a person dictates what they deserve in life, which would mean that she believed that she was actually superior to me and to other students of color. Also, she was lying, because the CDO does not specifically target multicultural students: they are there to help anyone that comes. In fact, I would argue the exact opposite; it is harder to find internships for multicultural students because of negative stereotypes. I was so angry; I stood up to go to the bathroom and also to let them know that I – a student of color – was there. As soon as the girls saw me they looked shocked (probably because I am obviously not white), and when I came back from the bathroom, they were gone.

9 responses

  1. They were probably talking about how it’s kind of unfair that only multicultural students were getting the opportunity. What if only white students were getting these opportunities?

    • Well, the key word is that they “encouraged” multicultural students, so everyone was still getting the opportunity.

  2. I don’t understand. They said nothing racist. Their opinion is that race should not be a consideration. I fail to see how the author is the victim here…

    • This sounds nothing like affirmative action. It sounds like an internship well suited for bilingual students, giving no advantage based on race at all.

  3. Evan McLaren is spot on! fyi International students faced much larger competition getting into Kenyon so they’re probably better than most above average white students at Kenyon. Peace and Harmony

  4. cry me a river. Let’s just wait for the supreme court decision. These girls shouldn’t have to shut up just because they are white. Calling this incident racist is way over the top. Disrespectful, tactless, sure. But racist, no way.

  5. Jacky, thank you so much for sharing this piece with us. I couldn’t be more disappointed in both the tenor of the comments and the dearth of any comments at all. You’re doing wonderful work by contributing to the discussion; I hope that soon this campus is ready to overcome its privilege and try to understand your experience and the experience of others concerning race.

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