This is a declaration of the frustrations experienced by a student of color.
I do not pretend to speak on anyone else’s behalf but my own.
I, Josephine Jimenez, pursue my own spiritual, academic, cultural, and psychological freedom by creating racial consciousness in the people around me. I don’t demand institutional support because I don’t need it. I don’t need the university to tell me when it is okay or not okay to teach people about who I am. I am the daughter of an illegal immigrant-turned citizen and a Mexican-American woman who does not come from privilege. According to you, I am the poster child for an oppressed minority. According to me, I am not oppressed and I do not see myself as a minority, I see myself as a human.
I’m not going to pretend that I have not experienced cultural ignorance, but it does not offend me in any way. Why? Because I see it as an opportunity to educate them one on one about my culture and how it makes me a little bit different. To demand that everyone instantly understand your culture is impractical and to demand it in such a way that you create a shameful environment for White students is unacceptable in my eyes.
Growing up, I was told that white Americans were not better than me, they were my equals. In the same way, I was also told that I am not better than Americans and that I do not deserve special treatment. Above all, I was taught that I am not a victim of my circumstance. If I wanted things to be different, I had to make them different and not by sitting and talking about change but by actively pursuing it. When I say “actively,” I do not mean walking out of Chapel, I mean teaching those around me out of love, not out of frustration.
This is not a letter to demean you or to say that you’re struggle doesn't mean anything. I’m telling you to understand that others won’t always understand. In the real world, do you think that the government is going to help with your struggle as a minority? Hell no they won’t. You have to help yourself. In that spirit, instead of demanding from the University, demand from yourself. Do something about it yourself.
In your letter your stated that students feel targeted by some teachers and that they are afraid to speak up for fear of a lower grade. I’m sorry, but I never saw a grade as a hindrance for me speaking up. If your professor is blatantly wrong and rude, you should say something. Around the world, people are being persecuted because of their race and they are speaking up with the threat of much more than a grade. If you want change, you cannot be afraid of the consequences and you cannot use them as an excuse. Change does not come easy, it comes with those consequences.
Never complain about something if you don’t have a solution in mind, right?
Here is what I propose:
You also need to realize this, you are not just fighting for yourselves. You are fighting for the future. This fight is worth the struggle, but you do not deserve to live in a world without that struggle. You deserve nothing in this life. You have to work for everything. You have to work for this and if you do not see the fruits in exactly the way you want to see them, you have to be aware that that is a possibility. The Civil Rights movement was not completed in a school year. We need to stop blaming White America for our struggle. Make change through love. Demand change in the way you love others, not in the way you push against them.
This is my contact information. I don’t scare easily.