Back to College: Going Back Black
Going back to school as a black student brings many struggles and hardships along with it this upcoming semester. This is why I am not going to be returning to college in-person this fall of 2020.
If you are a BIPOC and you are returning to campus this fall, I don’t believe that COVID-19 should be your only fear when attending college this upcoming year. We are currently in a state of political unrest in the United States. With the presidential elections approaching, the black lives matter movement erupting, and a pandemic, it is safe to say that students of color have much to have anxiety about when heading back to campus. These aspects should be especially concerning for students of color attending a predominantly white institution. As a Black woman, I can say I am happy to not be returning to campus for my last semester because I am online, and I will explain why.
First, I will begin by talking about the Coronavirus pandemic that has been affecting us for half a year already. Not only have cases exceeded 5 million and the death toll over 100,000 in the United States alone, but as people of color we are more likely to be affected by the virus. We are more likely to live in densely populated areas that cases are rising in. It is also highly likely that we live in a crowded housing arrangement, with a larger amount of family members or roommates. It is no surprise that we are also working the most essential jobs, which cannot be done remotely, and also use public transportation to be able to get to work. Not only do BIPOC individuals struggle to quarantine because of the way most of us live and work, but we face barriers in the healthcare system. Black or African Americans and Hispanics are more likely to be uninsured and discriminated against when trying to receive healthcare. So, for us individuals who consider themselves people of color, to be put back onto campuses with thousands of people are already putting ourselves at risk because of the pandemic. I am not saying that everyone is not at risk, but BIPOC are more likely to get sick and also more likely to not survive the pandemic. This is only one of the reasons why I was not interested in returning to school this semester.
Politics is a large factor when it comes to my decision about not returning to school in person. The upcoming presidential election is not something that I want to witness on campus. When Donald Trump was elected, I attended a high school where Caucasians were the minority. So instead of seeing people happy about the election results in 2017, I was greeted by my many friends of color who were all crying with me at the cafeteria table. Unfortunately, I would not have had the same comfort of right-minded individuals during this election at my predominately white institution. Instead I am greeted every once in a while, by the large cardboard cutout of Donald Trump at the College Republican table in our tabling area. I am also acquainted by pro-life tables and racist student organizations that cannot be told to leave campus because I attend a public school. Let’s not have a talk about posters planted around my college discriminating and disrespecting the LGBTQ, Muslim, and undocumented students who walk our halls daily. In short, it would not be ideal to attend my college while the election is happening to see what the tension approaching an actual election looks like, rather than just a normal day at a PWI.
The last reason why I will not be returning is because of the Black Lives Matter Movement. I am extremely proud of the freedom fighters, and leaders who are making noise about what has been happening in the Black community with police brutality, and discrimination against Black and African American people in this country. It has been a major eye opener for me with it erupting in my backyard, considering I live in the Twin Cities where it began with the murder of George Floyd. It is unfortunate the amount of tragedy that has to happen for people to realize what people of color have been going through for so long. The Black Live Matter Movement has not only put to light these matters but has also brought to light the people who don’t want us fighting for our human rights. The Karens and Bobs of the United States have shown me that returning to a school that is over eighty percent white, is more frightening than it seems. Already a student from the school system I attend, the University of Minnesota, has defaced the George Floyd memorial in front of Cup Foods where George Floyd died on the street. Not only is the student, Daniel Michelson, a student but he is a medical student. The student hasn’t even been expelled by the university. Just another example as to why people of color are less likely to survive this pandemic. Colleges allow racists to continue their education to becoming a medical professional, which will later lead to the death of a BIPOC because of healthcare discrimination. Not only does this highlight why me, as a black person is more likely to get infected and die, but also more likely to be among racist people who do not believe in the BLM movement. I also had to call out the student organizations at my school just so they could use their platforms as student leaders to spread awareness about what is happening in the Black community. I thought it was obvious to say something, when I don’t know, South Minneapolis was on fire. I had to put on blast a white woman who was putting down black woman to her black friend. Being unfollowed by covert racists from my school who were tired of seeing me post BLM posts made me realize the amount of disgusting people I’m around daily at my PWI. We can say at the least I am disgusted that I’ve spent money and invested in a school that does not address the campus climate as they should. So, as a Black person, I am not going to risk my health AND expose myself to being surrounded by racist behavior while also dealing with the stress of school itself.
I’m not stating these problems to put down the university I attend, but I am bringing to light how uncomfortable it is to be the minority at my school in general, let alone in 2020. I love being positive and focusing on what is bringing light into my life, but in order to do that you have to discuss the negative aspects. I am a Black student of color going to a school where I look like only less than three percent of the population. That is my own fault, choosing an institution that I was more likely to be discriminated at. Of course, there are other reasons why I’m choosing to stay home instead of returning to campus even though I am online, but these are the most important. With every reason why this year has been the most unexpected being surrounded by politics and racial injustice, I believe it is best for me to remain an online student for this upcoming semester. I’ve surrounded my whole college experience around exploring diversity and inclusion and trying to make a difference in the campus climate at my university. There are resources, but they are quite scarce and I’m afraid that it won’t be enough reason for me to return to campus. Going back to school Black is not normal any year, and if you’re not a person of color, be aware that those who did return to campus are putting themselves at risk in so many ways to receive an education. Education is one of the only ways us BIPOC individuals can surpass the oppression and stereotypes put on us daily because of our skin’s color. I, by God’s will, will get through my last semester of college this fall. I hope that all my beautiful black and brown people can continue to defy the system's way of oppressing us so that we fail. We can do this.
"Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for today."