SOUNDBITES: Quotes from the November 9th ABC forum discussion

Darryl Overton, ’11
“Watch the terminology you use when talking to black people or any race or any different background. Like one example would be the term “boy,” boy is a term used to look down upon a person of African-American descent.  If you greet me, I would prefer people to not say, ‘Hey, whattup boy,” because in my mind, you may not be malicious in intent but I could believe that you’re looking down on me by saying it.”

Denise Jones, ’13
“In class we were discussing issues of race and I was actually the only African American student in class and so automatically the professor asked me, ‘Well Denise, can you share the black perspective on this issue of race?’  They hadn’t intended to be malicious at all but if they had to ask the black student to give the black perspective about the topic, they shouldn’t even be discussing it or they should be well-versed in the topic and they should be able to discuss it with the class.  It shouldn’t be the student’s role to give the black perspective in class.”

Clay Grego, ’13
“I’ve had instances where someone calls me JeVon; that’s JeVon,” he said, pointing to JeVon Hatcher. “And I don’t know if he looks like me at all or not. This happens often. It’s uncomfortable to put people in that situation. Can we always be polite or can we assert that it’s not our name?  It’s very frustrating.  And I don’t think I look or look similar to another person, so try to make sure you know the names of the people you meet, not when you can’t remember, but it’s particular hurtful when you confuse one of us with another.”

Duane Horton, ’14
“I would like to say just because I’m black doesn’t mean I can sing, act or dance.”

Eunice Kessie, ’12
“I never thought in a million years that I would reach a point in my life where I would not want to step outside because of my color. It should not happen.”

Lauren Harewood, ’12
“I’m the only black physics major here at Allegheny College. I would just like to share that I grow tired of disrespect. For instance, students saying to me I’m not actually black because I take physics or suggesting I’m not as intelligent or that I don’t quite understand what I’m learning or I’m not quite capable as other students. I’m tired.”

Daryl Ford, ’13
“This issue that I’m about to speak of is actually directed towards the African American students and we talking about this during meeting and a lot of the time – not a lot of the time – some of the time, the comments that we make to each other or about each other can also be degrading in a sense. The example I gave when we talked was when I was in high school, I was in the upper level of my class and a lot of the other African American students would say, ‘Oh, you’re not black because you’re in that AP Calc class’ or whatever.  Then on a certain occasion, a white friend I had in school was like, “Yeah girl, you’re not black because you’re in this class with me.'” And all the African American students got so mad at her and just wanted to yell at her and I defended her and I said Well you guys say this to me on a daily basis so how would you get mad when she says it to me and she hears you saying it?’ So I just think that it’s important that we also watch what we say about each other and watch what you say about any race because we can’t have a double standard.”

Cureema Uzzell, ’12
“I came from a predominantly white high school – this is way more diverse than my high school ever was so my decision in coming here would be way different than my experience in high school because this campus is a lot [more] diverse. It’s interesting to me how I’m affected not by just professor as people have mentioned like Cureema or just students but I was actually offended by a girl who was only ten years old.  We had camp here for basketball, running it with a couple of students who play basketball here who are African Americans , and she comes up to me [the ten year old] and …she’s like you kind of people and she points at me and the other assistant african american coach behind me, and I’m like, ‘You kind of people? Ok…’ I didn’t even know how to respond to that but the fact that she’s only ten years old really shocked me and surprised me.  I don’t want to judge her, where she comes from, from that, but it’s interesting to me how I was affected by a girl who was ten years old. I kind of stood in disappointment – I was almost embarrassed by the fact – it was like she was looking at me as if I was…I don’t know.  I don’t know.  It was just horrible.  It was interesting to me how it made me feel like I was an alien, almost.  When people do that to me, when people say those things to me, now I’m not speaking for any of my other members in ABC but I think that’s something we all share with our experiences and what we’re here to speak to you about is just comfort.  And feeling like we belong and feeling like you guys wanna speak to us or anyone on this campus – don’t look at us like we’re not humans.  That’s where the feeling comes from and why I have courage to speak about it, just to let you know that I wanna be invited and welcome just as I want to invite you guys.”

Brittany Johnson, ’12
“One thing to keep in mind is that so often we are quiet and we don’t say anything because it’s just easier to go about it and live our lives.”

JeVon Hatcher, ’11
“I frequently get questioning and disapproving looks anytime I try to advocate for the minority perspective.  There are organizations I try to be a part of and make sure have somewhat of – in no way an equal representation – but just so ideas get thrown out there.  And when I do speak about any of these issues, I’m looked at in such an appalled way.”

Gena Frank, ‘13
“I just wanted to talk as a white member of ABC about how oftentimes I’m questioned about why I’m in the group.  People ask me, ‘Is it weird to hang out with a bunch of black kids?’ That puts me in a very uncomfortable position.  I think there is this sort of expectation that it is on ‘the black community’ and not on the Allegheny community and that this is something we can only care about oppression if it directly affects us.”

Allie Tallman, ’12
“OK, so obviously I’m not black and I think something that a lot of people may not realize is that white, caucasian – I call myself pasty – I mean, whatever we call ourselves, just because we’re not black doesn’t mean we don’t experience just these same things.  Little background about myself: I’m from Cleveland which is kind of a lot more diverse than this campus.  My high school was probably a 60/40 split, 40% being whites/other. So when I came here, I just thought this was a really white campus.  And my freshman year, everyone remembers being a freshman, we travel in packs and I was with a group of people and we walking from one end of campus to the campus center or something and we passed maybe two black students and one of the girls I was with turned to me and was like, ‘Allie, I’ve never seen this many black people in my life.’  I understand that college is culture shock for a lot of people and it’s a culture shock for me but the way she said this wasn;t liek oh wow this is interesting, you could hear it, she was terrified in her voice.  And I looked at her like she was insane.  Then she realized she probably shouldn’t have said that.  I looked at her and I said, “What are you talking about?” She tried to explain she was from a tiny town, middle of nowhere, I was like that’s not what I asked you.  I said, ‘You sound scared and there’s no reason to be afraid of anyone until they give you a reason to. Criminals come in all colors.  And so do friends.  Her and I obviously don’t talk much anymore but the point is that we have to be able to stand up for each other.  The black community should not be relying on the black community to support themselves.  They shouldn’t.  It’s hard for me to come to a place like this and I’m used to having an array of friends of all different races and cultures and religions and here, I have white friends and like three black friends.  And it’s very, very hard for me, but I still move on.  I don’t think anyone else should blame culture shock.  No one else should blame the fact they came from a tiny town.”

Carlos Lopez, ’11
“I want to encourage people to come and speak to somebody that would help clear up those notions and assumptions that Cureema was talking about.  Like people always say ‘Oh, you’re tall, you’re black, you’re on the basketball team, how’s your scholarship?’ No, I’m not on the basketball team.  No, I don’t run track. That’s one of the assumptions you can easily get past just by taking to someone.”