The Plight of a Black Conservative College Student
"Josh" via The BlackSphere, TheBlackSphere
Diversity or Conformity
As a black student who for most of my life has attended primarily white institutions, I have often asked myself what we as a society hope to achieve with our efforts to become more diverse. Going to a high school with mostly white students I believed that diversity meant having more students of color. I was the president of the Multi-Cultural Student Alliance, and the Black Student Union at my school. At first I felt that the work I was doing with in both groups was fulfilling and that I was truly making a difference. However, after reflecting upon my experiences in both groups, I began to realize that not only was I victim, but I was perpetuating a system that did not truly support diversity.
When it comes to economics I am conservative. Upon hearing this most people only hear the word “conservative.” Since my freshmen year of high school I have been aware of what my true political affiliation is. However, I was well aware of the growing dangers of making this statement. By identifying as conservative many would assume the following stereotypes about me: I must be racist, sexist, homophobic, a sellout, an uncle tom, and just downright ignorant. I knew that as a student with five sisters, and having good friends who are gay, being labeled with such terms would be dangerous to any sort of social life I wanted to have. So I played the part much like many minority students claim that society forces us to act and be a certain way until my senior year when I finally had enough of living a life of lies and hypocrisy.
By my senior year I was fed up with myself. I preached about how we should not generalize and label, and yet I was a repeat offender of that. The reason I got away with it was because I was going with the status quo and saying what everyone wanted to hear. I even participated in an article that basically called my high school (a place that I love) an institutionally racist place. I said these things while my three closest friends are white. I said these things while I had great teachers who were the furthest thing from racist and treated me with nothing but respect. I said I was liberal, when at home I was secretly a huge admirer of the work of Ben Shapiro and Thomas Sowell.
I finally was able to draw the line when I overheard a couple kids accusing one of my close friends of being racist. Because he was planning on voting for Trump. My friend who had never uttered a racist word in his life, and a guy who I knew to treat everyone with a high level of respect was being accused of being a racist right before my eyes. He was not being called racist because of anything he said or had done. He was being judged simply because he saw politics from a different point of view.
I began to see the hypocrisy in the way I was living.
What if the roles were reversed? Would it be okay if my white conservative friend was generalized people the way he was generalized? It was then I realized that while I believed I was part of the solution, I was merely perpetuating the problem. It was in that moment that I began to see that instead of fighting against conformity and seeking to improve ourselves by formulating our opinions based on conversations with those who differ in opinion than us, we simply are forcing conformity and trying to get all people to think the same.
At institutions like [college affiliation removed], I found that the common goal of social justice is to fight against prejudices and stereotypes. And while I feel at times that these “stereotypes,” are blown out of proportion, any attempt at improving the circumstances of students on campus is admirable to me. The irony of this is that while it appears we are fighting to demolish stereotypes based on physical appearance, we have created a new breed of discrimination that is not based on one’s appearance, but it is based on how one thinks. The most bothersome part about this is that the ones who intellectually discriminate are the ones who claim they are “allies” of those who claim to experience discrimination based on appearance. Just as those who claim to be allies say they are fighting to show that they are more than just their skin color, gender or sexual orientation, I believe we can find a parallel when I say just because a student is black does not make him/her an athlete, being a Trump supporter does not make that person racist.