Colleges should be sensitive to students’ cultural, racial history

By Felicia Melvin
October 29, 2009

As a student here at Cabrini, I can honestly say I haven’t experienced any racism on campus. Although some of my friends claim to have experienced situations where they feel they were treated differently because of their race, I always differ.

Sometimes as a student, topics about race in a classroom discussion can cause some feelings of awkwardness especially when your race or culture’s short comings are the predominant topic of discussion.

I have encountered some of the nicest people at Cabrini, but is it okay to single out a particular race in the classroom?

There are different histories for all cultures, but in most of my classes the topics are about blacks and whites. Knowing the history of African Americans, it can be unsettling to constantly hear the horrors between the two races.

I have been in classes where professors will talk about African Americans, Jews, Hispanics, etc. and discuss the history of these cultures and never speak about the contributions they have made, just the vile parts of their history.

I believe that all cultures and races should get recognition in the classroom and professors should be sensitive when teaching.

I am aware that this may help the professor make a point about the subject, but it would be tolerable to show that almost every culture has suffered at some point in history but has also overcome obstacles to have the society we have today. I have heard the words “you don’t have a future if you don’t know your past.” As an African American I have learned a lot about my ancestry through elementary school, high school and within my family. In college it’s a completely different degree of learning about history.

Professors will tell it like it is, and don’t get me wrong that’s the best way to learn, but it can also be told about all different types of societies and cultures with respect to all students. What do I mean about respect to students? Not singling out one race. For example, when talking about America as a whole, don’t just reference the black and white races.

As a student who is considered a minority at Cabrini, I have had great experiences with my peers and faculty for the most part. I don’t have any complaints except that when talking about my black history, understand that it is difficult to repeatedly hear the degrading history that my ancestors have faced.

Sensitivity to topics about race from professors would make it easier for students to participate in discussions about racial history. Helping students to realize that there are people of all races who have done some good and some bad things would make all students feel more comfortable.

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Felicia Melvin

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