Discomforts of the 8%

By Tylar Norman

You know that feeling when you walk into a room full of people, and there is no where left to sit. You are actively looking, but there is no room for you. The room is crowded, uncomfortable, and everyone stops and stares at you…as if you have intruded.

Sometimes as 1 of 26,000 it’s easy to feel this way on the campus of UGA. More specifically, as a minority student on the campus of UGA, this is what we live with. It is easy for your brain to be clouded by the judgement of others.

Do you belong here? Are you always treated fair and as equal as everyone else? Simple question with some not so simple answers. It astonishes me that some people truly do not believe that the feelings and treatment of minority students are just as important as anyone else. And sometimes it embarrasses me to attend a university that does not appear to acknowledge our existence all the time.

Our cries are silenced. Unless it is a problem that concerns the majority, the voice of minority goes unheard.

What tears me apart, is hearing about events happening on campus where racist rhetoric is allowed and goes unnoticed by those who I feel should be ensuring that everyone is included at the table.

On November 27, the University of Georgia hosted two Wild ’N Out cast members, Emmanuel Hudson and D.C. Young Fly. Wild ’N Out is a stand up comedy show with crazy games based on black and hip hop culture. This event was not typical for a predominately white university, but I express my gratitude to the UGA administration and University Union for working towards inclusivity for black students by selecting more performers pertaining to our culture.

It’s not very often that the University executes events that gauge the interest of the majority of minority students. The audience of  Wild ’N Out was majorly composed of black students with a sprinkle of other races. Events such as this one encourage all types of minority students to come together in areas such as the Miller Learning Center or Tate Student Center for reasons related to more than solely academics or their personal social circles, such as Tate Time or the Intersection, which serve as safe spaces for minorities.

The entertainment exceeded expectations and Emmanuel and D.C. keep the crowd rolling with laughter throughout their performance. The students who were on the two comedians teams we diverse, representing several different ethnicities and backgrounds.  

Unfortunately the evening was soured.

The “n-word” was uttered, not once but twice, from the lips of a student who I believe, had no business saying it.

The atmosphere shifted.

Black students in the crowd were outraged by how easy the word slipped from the students’ lips. Yells and boos from the audience filled the room. An otherwise great performance became haunted by history repeating itself once again on our campus.

Camden Dukes, an attendee, said that she disappointed and disgusted that a university sanctioned event would feature such rhetoric. Other students, like Zahria Holman were not even surprised, which she also remarks is a problem within itself.

“If you are not a “nigga”  than do not say “nigga”….

My stance is not to give the word ambiance or normality, but to make it heard that it has become to normalized for offensive speech to be said at the expense of the minority. Yet, when it happens, nothing is done to ensure the consolation of minority students. It feels as our feelings do not matter, even when the roles reverse and we become the majority in a room.

Although, repercussions or simply a response from the administration of the university would  be appreciated. This goes to show the lack of social education that all UGA students need to be more aware of. It is not being “sensitive” or a “snowflake”. It is about giving the decency and respect that everyone deserves regardless of their ethnic makeup, sexuality, or gender. More education needs to given on how to respond to these situations, so we can ensure that we can decrease this type of behavior and continues to grow diversity across the university.

There are a plethora for opportunities for minority student at the University of Georgia. But, I feel like to an extent UGA does not try as hard as they should to make kids of different backgrounds feel comfortable on a predominately white campus.

I know that UGA has come a long way over the past decades, but do you ever sit and wonder how a campus this large still has not reached double digits in percentage of students of African diaspora. Programs such as DAZE and BMLS, the Black Male Leadership Society, have extensive programs work endlessly to recruit black students.

To ensure for the future, we must continue to create spaces where we feel uncomfortable and voice our anguish, whether we are the minority or the majority in the room. Why would a young minority student want to choose a school where they cannot feel comfortable in the skin they are in?

 

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