In this day and age racism is an obscure term. The idea of black and white is not so, well, black and white anymore. Racism is a touchy subject in society worldwide, and the SUNY Albany campus is no different.
UA is a huge university with a diverse community of students and faculties. When you sit in the Campus Center people of all different races and ethnicities pass by; African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Caucasians, and biracial people all co-exist on one campus.
With all of these races and ethnicities, comes the issue of how they all interact with each other. Since it is 2012, society is far beyond blatant racism and discrimination (for the most part). However, everybody is guilty of prejudice thoughts that may come from a personal experience or a common stereotype.
Also, people’s responses and feelings towards this racism may vary from person to person, or from scenario to scenario.
These prejudices can come from all directions; friends, shop owners, or even academic advisors.
Sunil Mampilly, senior, is Indian and said without hesitation that he has experienced racism. “Actually yes! He just called me a Towel Head! And I was very offended.” Mampilly laughed and gestured to Joey Peterson.
Peterson, junior, is white… and a friend of Mampilly’s. He agreed that he too has experienced racism, even from friends. An African American roommate of his frequently refers to him as a “cracker”, but it does not bother him, just as his comments do not bother Mampilly.
Derogatory terms such as those are meant to offend groups of people, however around campus, friends use them to identify each other. Peterson said that the names might not bother them anymore because they do not mean anything to them, personally.
In different circumstances, to different people, the name-calling may hurt some.
Michael George, junior, is African American and he remembers being called a “monkey” back in middle school. “Kids…” he remembers had said it, “and they probably didn’t even know what it meant.” Aside from then, George has experienced racism all through his life, growing up as an African American male he knew he was being watched, from shopping, to just walking down the street. Most recently George recalls his academic advisor recommending classes he believed would be “easier” for the junior. George attributed this to racism and explained that he decided to take the harder class and got a B.
Another division of racism, Anti-Semitism, is still alarmingly popular. Sure it’s not “Hitler Anti-Semitism” explained Craig Foxman, senior, “but I still feel like once people find out I’m Jewish they automatically are holding something against me.” Foxman has learned there is nothing he can do about these sentiments and has resolved to just ignore them.
Stephanie Wank. junior, has also experienced her fair share of Anti-Semitism. She recalls one member of an organization she is involved with on campus that would always make remarks and “Jew jokes”. She said that it eventually came to the point where she was uncomfortable and would avoid the individual.
Jake Ben-Ami, senior, felt Anti-Semitism in middle school when the “bullies” would call him names. He laughs now when he remembers how he dealt with the teasers, telling them they were “acting immature”. “I was twelve, and I was just sick of it, so I just looked at them and told them to grow up.” Now, he says, he hasn’t encountered any bullies on campus.
Jorge Zapata, junior, and Alonso Perez, senior, are both Hispanic.
Zapata recalls being mocked for his heavy accent and people calling him by stereotypical Hispanic names, Jesus or Miguel. Perez has similar memories of being called names like “Spick”.
Even, Mac Cullinane, junior, believes he has experienced discrimination as a Caucasian. He remembers that growing up with many different races in his town he was sometimes made to feel excluded or like “the white boy”.
Racism, no matter how subtle or blunt is a problem with no easy fix. However, today’s generation is dealing with it in a different way then ones in the past.
While some people are able to ignore it, or even joke about it with friends, sometimes comments and stereotypes are much more hurtful.
Students feeling upset about prejudices and stereotypes may find help at the Counseling Center, or by getting connected with an organization on campus that is race and/or ethnicity specific.