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Black college students across US complain of subtle form of racism on daily basis: Report

13 November 2015 16:20



African American college students complain of a subtle and prevalent form of racism on campuses across the US that has a corrosive effect but doesn’t make headlines.

It’s not always the racial slurs and other obvious acts of racism by white students, but the casual, everyday slights and insensitivities that minority students often suffer, according to a report by the Associated Press.

As thousands of students took part in walkouts and rallies against racism this week in a show of solidarity with protesters at the University of Missouri, many young black people speak of a low-grade insensitivity toward racial minorities they call microaggression.

“It’s more the daily microaggressions than the large situations,” said Akosua Opokua-Achampong, a sophomore at Boston College was born in the US to parents from Ghana.

When Opokua-Achampong tells other students that she’s from New Jersey, some ask where she’s REALLY from. “When you’re not white, you can’t just be American,” she said.

Dominick Hall, a black student at Loyola University in Chicago, says groups of white guys stop talking and people grip their bags a little tighter when he walks by.

Research has shown that the stresses of being a minority, in addition to the usual pressures of adjusting to college, can cause some students to leave school, said Jioni A. Lewis, a psychology professor at the University of Tennessee.

Katiana Roc says she can’t forget the day that a white student a few seats away from her at West Virginia University got up and moved to the other side of the classroom.

“He looked uncomfortable. I’m pretty sure he moved because of the color of my skin. It didn’t hurt my feelings,” she said. “What disappointed me was his ignorance.”

She added that just being on campus can be a day-to-day struggle.

Janay Williams, a senior at the University of California Los Angeles, said she is the only black person in her biology class and is routinely among the last picked for group assignments.

“Students don’t want to be in the same group as you with a group project, because they’re afraid you’re not going to do your share,” she said.

Stories like this aren’t new, the black students said. But many say the unrest at the University of Missouri and the Black Lives Matter movement that received new momentum from the 2014 death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, has finally driven them to talk about it and confront it.

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