Students from universities across America are experiencing racial discrimination from their peers and faculty, and it’s negatively impacting their lives in a multitude of ways.
Students have been judged on their looks, received unfair treatment, and been disrespected, simply because of the color of their skin. The difference between racial discrimination and racism is that racism is usually unintentional and unconscious thoughts of the one being racist, while racial discrimination is intentional and purposeful by the discriminatory person.
When first starting college, Jessica Maris, a Latina of immigrant parents that attended Dominguez Hills, thought it was going to be a fun and unforgettable experience. Jessica was taunted and received different treatment from other students because of the color of her skin.
“When I wanted to join study groups I was not really welcomed,” stated Jessica Maris. “One time I asked a girl if we can exchange numbers so we can study, she then proceeded to stare at me up and down and said she couldn’t.”
Many students of color experience racial discrimination within their schools. According to an article by Pew Research Center, Monica Anderson mentioned that at least 81% of African American students reported that they’ve experienced some sort of racial discrimination from either their former classmates, teachers, or staff.
Raymond Gonzalez, a former student at the University of Southern California, was on the cusp of dropping out of college because he couldn’t bear being discriminated against. In this case, he said that not only was it students, but even the teacher would do things to make him feel dehumanized.
“They know it happens they just ignore it,” said Raymond Gonzalez when asked if he believes that school administrators acknowledge racial discrimination upon schools. “At one point I wanted to quit, but then I just placed an imaginary screen between me and my surroundings and pushed harder.”
Not only is racial discrimination wrong, but it can potentially cause harm to someone’s mental health and could possibly cause the students to have low self-esteem or even lead to failure in academic courses. In a survey focused on youth discrimination in college by Stephen Russel, Sociologist, and Author, he found that 15.8% of students said they were racially bullied or harassed in college. The same survey also mentioned that there were very strong connections between students’ mental health and the fact that they are being discriminated against.
Going to college, former college student Juan Ortiz is a proud Mexican American of color and a soccer player that has always dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player. He always dreamed of joining a fraternity and having the time of his life in college. He would soon find out that a wave of hatred would be a daily experience for him.
“There were a lot of students; my soccer teammates since I played soccer for my college,” said Juan Ortiz, when asked who specifically discriminated against him. . “But just because of the skin color that I have and the family I came from; the heritage, they saw me as somebody less while I was doing the same exact thing as everyone else”.
Many people of color that are tormented by the treatment they receive in school get traumatized. Many suffer from depression and PTSD growing up after experiencing these scenes in education. Monica T. Williams explains how a young man developed trauma when being racially discriminated against. In her article she states that “He began to suffer from symptoms of depression, generalized anxiety, low self-esteem, and feelings of humiliation.”
“I believe that it’s something that is always going to be around, I used it to motivate me to do better and be successful,” said Williams.