Nov 05 2013


Speak Up. The World is Listening.

Filed under Blog Posts

Note from the author:

This week, I want to step away from the darker, more humorous side of my thoughts to transition to that which is more profound, yet more personal. This post, though from a place of frustration and anger, has a greater purpose.  After seven quick, but loaded, weeks, I have found myself very much in my own emotions.  Reflection, more times than not, is a result of isolation; Middlebury allows each student his own isolationist-bubble to reflect.  Like with any reaction to an environment, some are forced to reflect more often than others.  I attach to this privilege of frequency of reflection the seamlessness of your own Middlebury road, a road based on origin an upbringing.  Before you read ahead, understand this is an account of my personal experience. Finally, this post is an attempt to show, in my opinion, how Middlebury needs to acknowledge that it does not do a good job of creating spaces for people who do not come from the “stereotypical” Middlebury student background.

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It’s easy to be quiet.  It’s easy to sit in silence when something upsetting occurs.  Why speak?  Why speak when you know, for a fact, that no matter how articulate you sound, no matter how calm or level-headed you can be, there is this understanding that you don’t actually have a say in what is going on around you?  We cannot show emotion.  Anything above a whisper is already too much and the world immediately shouts: “Oh boy!  Another angry person of color going on about something that only matters to them.”  Thing is, I’m not usually this angry, promise.  It’s just that after six or seven weeks of seeing everyone around me say insensitive shit, I tend to lose my cool a bit.

Have you ever been so angry that you don’t even know what you are angry about anymore?  So angry that you aren’t sure if you are angry about the right thing? So angry that it doesn’t even matter if you are angry because you are in a place that does not caters to your demographic?

“Why not transfer if you hate it so much?”

“What do you mean you don’t like it here?  This place is the most amazing place in the world.”

I want to find the most comfortable sweater, put the hood above my head and put my head down in my desk.  I am tired, exhausted even, from attempting to do what I came here for…to provide diversity for the campus.  I’m not here to get an education and get a job (Like everyone else).  I am not here to take four classes a semester.  I am always taking five classes a semester because being of color is like having an additional job.  Being of color means I have signed a contract with the school so it can tell me that I shouldn’t be so upset when I hear that it’s okay to “other” groups of people in class.

You should be happy that you are here and you should not make noise. This place is welcoming.

Everyone preaches  political correctness and being liberal at a place in which there are few safe spaces.  There are even fewer spaces to be real and honest.  From the start, we are forced to identify ourselves because if we don’t then someone else will.  Once everyone chooses their personal identifiers (note: some identifiers cannot be just put on. For example, your sex, race and ethnicity are not identifiers that you are in control of.  So sucks to be you kiddo), then the readily available groups appear to you.  The campus compartmentalizes (and if you don’t believe me then peep the fact that there are two different homecomings.  There is one homecoming for “everyone” and then there is the “people of color” homecoming).  Some are fortunate because they can switch between identities on a regular basis.  Truth of the matter is, I don’t see why middkids make such a big fuss about dressing up for Halloween when we perform and dress up everyday on campus.

This is supposed to be my school.  I am supposed to be proud and happy to say I go here.  I love homecoming.  It’s my favorite weekend of the year.  However, once I graduate, how am I supposed to return to a place I cannot consider home?  Soon after I arrived, school was no longer about growth, but rather survival.

What do I tell my students when they ask me if they should go to Middlebury College?

Should I say it’s going to be the most fun experience of your life or should I say, “To be honest, you will struggle.  That struggle will make you stronger (Love the clichés.  Make everything worth while) and you will learn that the true meaning of being isolated.  You will be in the middle of nowhere feeling like you should put your head down and come up for air in May of your senior year.  Fake it ‘til you make it and hope nobody forces your hand.  Don’t show your cards because it hurts to be honest.  Truth is, it hurts to hurt.  It hurts to hurt even more when you are in the middle of nowhere and you are in a place where you might as well be talking to walls.”  I swear I only speak because I want to see change.  Real change.  I want to see responsibility.  I want to see accountability.  I feel like I am held accountable for every single step I take on campus. Why shouldn’t everyone else be held to that same standard?  If I hear another Pub Safe officer ask me if “I’m all set,” I might just ask them if they can escort me off campus because apparently I must be missing something or possibly up to no good if, God forbid, I wanted to get something to eat from the Grille.

What if your culture was sitting on your shoulders every time you walked in a room?  The weight of everything you grew up with just sitting right in front of you for everyone to see?  But don’t bring attention to it though, because if you do everyone else might be uncomfortable.  I am sorry.  I truly am sorry that everything associated with the way I look stares you in the face.  I am sorry that you don’t sit well in your seat because I never found a comfortable chair for me yet.  Yeah the trees and shit are beautiful.  Everyone wants to save the squirrels running around campus.  I’m really happy for you and I will let you finish but the real reason I seem uninterested is because I am still here trying to understand why I need to work extra hard to create a space where I can say “Hey Middlebury, Be Better.”

Yours in Solidarity,

Timothy Garcia ’14

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The onus of making Middlebury a place that is accepting and open for all students falls squarely on students who are othered. I feel like I am abroad at Middlebury because I feel like every aspect of this educational institution reminds me that I am not like everyone else. Moreover, because there are no spaces to feel comfortable, I need to swallow it on and work harder than the “normal” Middlebury student to create something that resembles the spaces that most already has access to.  My fifth class means I need to reach out for support constantly.  Although support systems exist for some, I must find my own.  Middlebury needs to make the classroom, the dining hall, the events, and every space on campus more inclusive and safe.

 

**Edited by Olamide Fadairo ‘15**

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