Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Students say racism still alive

At the University, being black still means being the only one in a sea of white faces, even in 2010. A desegregation panel co-hosted by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Delta Sigma Theta sorority opened a dialogue about myriad misconceptions Wednesday.

Jevrell Long, a sophomore majoring in marketing, said being black automatically puts you at a disadvantage in the classroom.

“It’s awkward at first because you feel like you can’t make any mistakes if you are the only black person,” Long said. “It’s even worse if there are a few other black kids because you automatically get grouped with them. If they show up late or don’t turn in their assignments, teachers assume you will do the same.”

“I laugh at the ignorance of racism,” said Kenneth Warren, a senior majoring in marketing. “I remember sitting in an English class as the only black person, and the only black male in the room. My teacher asked me if black people prefer to be called black or African-American, and I remember he expected my opinion to speak for a whole race of people.”

Warren pointed out that each person is individually unique, and that one person cannot give an accurate statement for an entire group.

“Blackness is only one facet of who we are as people,” said Alyson Watson, a junior majoring in African American studies with a minor in liberal arts. “It should not define us.”

One audience member during the panel discussion said a huge misconception remains that when black people have a party, someone is bound to be shot. He said there are just as many altercations at white functions, and that the hip hop and rap artists on BET do not define the culture as a whole.

Issues discussed in the panel included the continued existence of racism on campus and the roles of black men and women in the community.

Some black students said they did not even feel comfortable attending the Malone-Hood Plaza dedication at Foster Auditorium because they did not believe it was a genuine tribute to change from the University of Alabama.

“We get involved in things when we know the place is invested in us,” said Brittney Cooper, a professor in the department of women’s studies. “If you don’t see changes in the institution on a widespread level, it becomes merely symbolic.”

All black students are still not convinced that racism was a historical incident that affected well-known civil rights activists like Rosa Parks.

“If you’re not the one being told to sit in the back of the bus or not to go to a certain place because of your color, it may not seem to affect you as much,” an audience member said.  “However, racism is still all over the place.”

“I’ve experienced racism firsthand,” Watson said. “ A group of white people hosted a choreography event for Homecoming last year, and when we hosted the same exact event in the same venue, there was 10 times more security.”

She recalls having her purse searched at the Step Show before she could even walk in the door.

“I was told that I better not have a weapon,” Watson recalled.

Some black students also said they feel discriminated against, in that they are treated differently based solely on their athletic abilities.

“It’s like the white guy who can’t stand black people but loves Alabama football,” said Meredith Harris, a junior majoring in psychology. “He decides to like Julio and Mark just because they can throw a football. It’s wrong.”

Watson said some white people only like having black athletes at the University when it benefits them, such as BY winning a National Championship.

Greek organizations remain predominantly white or black on campus, and Hope Marshall, a host of the panel, does not see that changing any time soon.

“I feel like the white sororities expect us to go teach them to step for Homecoming,” Marshall said. “It’s like that’s all they think we can do. And then it’s kind of like, ‘Okay, you can leave now.’”

“People need to be a little more open-minded and evolve with the times,” Harris said. “America is a melting pot, and everything in it should also be a melting pot.”

More to Discover