I would first like to say that I willingly chose my university and I love it here, but I will not deny the fact that it is difficult. Also, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and experience. I and others are not speaking for all Latino/Hispanic/African American/People of Color students. I never realized how un-diverse my university was. It was not one of the main aspects of colleges that I looked at. I looked at size, classes, mission statements, and overall student life. No one mentioned that there would be moments where I would be the only brown person in the room. No one told me how often I would hear micro-aggressions in the hallway. No told me that it would be as difficult as it is.
That being said, not everything here is dark clouds and sadness. I have friends who stand with me in solidarity, I have people who love me and are allies for me and other students of color, and I have found my niche here. But I will not lie and say that there aren't days that are extremely hard. There are days when I feel like no one gets it. There are days that just in general suck.
Now you might be wondering "Well what makes it so bad?" I'll give some background on myself. I have been to private catholic school since kindergarten through senior year of high school. The private schools in my area did have a higher concentration of white kids and families but where I live people of color take up nearly half the population. Having a diverse classroom was a constant. I was never just the only brown one in a room. I did experience little microaggressions from other students and sometimes faculty but never as much as I did in college.
At my university people blatantly asked "where I was from?" They asked if I was born with hair actually straight. They liked guessing what "place" I was originally from. I hated walking into a classroom to see that I was the only student of color or person of color in the room. My two favorite professors are professors of color. I would doubt that it was a coincidence. It is difficult to be in classes where I listen to people try to explain why me and people that look like me are "just so easily categorized". I hate that when one of my professor says something like "let's hear from a different perspective" and looks at the three people of color in the class, we all know what he is really asking. I joined a cultural club on campus and truly found a home. It hurts when people associate our club as the "Mexicans on campus", or the ones will the cool dance stuff, or to the people that immediately assume we just sit around and speak Spanish. This difficulty sparked a fire within me. I joined more clubs, and got more involved. I made new friends and had extremely intellectual and difficult conversations because of it. I would not have experienced it or found this passion without this university. It is hard. There are good times and bad ones but everyday is a fight.
I talked to other students on campus. A person I talked to brought up her own experiences. She had never went to school with another white person due to the fact that she lived in low income, predominantly people of color area and immigrant area. She attended a private high school but they focused on getting first generation students and other underrepresented kids to her high school. She essentially had never interacted with any white student in any classroom. Now, her high school knew of problems of students that are people of color going to a more white college and they made programs. Programs to help students be aware of stigmas, ignorance, and stereotypes that people may put on them. But as a student, sometimes these programs were ignored. She walked onto campus and wondered where were the people that looked like her? She began to question herself and wondered if people thought she was dumb or lesser than just because the color of her skin. She wondered if people say her as just a brown kid with a hard life that got a scholarship. She is now in her junior year and told me her highs outweigh her lows. This difference made her get involved, much like me. She joined cultural clubs, mentoring programs, and was a counselor to help other students going through the same thing. She saw her greater purpose and she would have never saw it without going to this predominantly white school.
Other students discussed different experiences with me. Some thought that our university would be a melting pot of different cultures while others knew that there a large amount of white students. Some students felt extremely targeted while others felt that they had never been excluded. Experiences were different for everyone. There was one common denominator in everyone I talked to. They expressed there were days when it was hard but that they loved this university. They wanted change but appreciated the allies involved.