Columnist: Change must come from Allegheny’s student body

Mimi Lam, Contributing Writer

When a woman of European descent clutches her purse after encountering a man of African descent walking down a street, we automatically point out that she is racist, but we don’t understand the circumstances that led to her actions. Maybe she has had previous struggles with men on the street? Does her abusive father resemble the man? Maybe she had negative experiences with past relationships?
The point is that most of us naturally point our fingers toward race. While I do agree that race is a factor, it is certainly not the only one.

Unconsciously, people insult other minority groups. This is called microaggression. I admit that I partake in microaggressions as well. I say unknowingly offensive phrases such as “hey guys” that potentially disregards females or “Merry Christmas” for Jewish people.
In order to surpass the subtle offences of racism and differnce, we must become aware of what we say and to whom we say it to. In return, if we hear someone saying a microaggression, we must point out to them that their words are oppressing others.
About more than a month ago, Allegheny had a discussion regarding the arrest of Professor Kirk Nesset. The talk snowballed into a dispute on the lack of assistance Allegheny provides for its students.

Countless times, people have casually said something offensive without so much as a slap on the wrist. I believe we don’t have to wait until the school administrators enforce a school meeting about community at Allegheny to help victimized students for these sort of minor crimes. In the end, the school isn’t going to help each and every student, it is the students themselves that must help each other and build our own community.
Clearly the conversation was a start on building the school’s community, but the problem was that people who needed to hear the issues did not come. And I could imagine that the following meetings did not garner a huge turnout either.

I propose that we need a better solution. We need a meeting that the majority of the students attend, such as dorm meetings or even classrooms. Resident Advisors can host a hall meeting and converse on the matters of microaggressions. People can learn that we must not assume what the media depicts of a particular group.

For example, the show Honey Boo Boo represents a very small proportion of Caucasians. Most people understand that this is the case; however, when a minority of African Americans is personified on a show, some people assume that the depiction exemplifies the entire group of African Americans.
We must understand where each individual comes from and learn about their background stories before we make any assumptions. The media is not a reliable source to base judgment upon.

I understand that for the first time, people might have encountered diversity within their lives outside of their high school. Therefore, their only exposure to minority groups is the media, but understand that most of the media’s portrayal is false.
Coming from an Asian- American culture, I feel that I have to constantly prove my individualism apart from my ethnicity. I become more aware of my actions that might be taken the wrong way by some people, that I’m similar to my ethnic group as opposed to all of us being different.
Allegheny does not have the most diverse campus, but the students can accommodate and assist each and every one, make us feel welcome.