Talking about systematic oppression abroad
Recently my study abroad group presented a power point about the education system in America. We presented this project to a large group of master students at our university. Unfortunately, this project was scheduled during finals and many of us put our slides together last minute, myself included. Rushing to put together my portion I didn’t have enough time to reflect on the content I wanted to include.
Picture taken on a quite morning in Bangalore.
While we were presenting I realized that there was no reference to the systematic inequalities within our American education system. In that moment I decided to talk about this injustice because it would be a huge disservice to my community and many others like it if this truth went untold. So I began explaining that even when applying for scholarships it is hard for many people of color to receive them because of the systems of oppression within America that hold our communities back.
Picture taken at Shivoham Temple in Bangalore.
I made the mistake of not explaining further what the phrase “people of color” means in America now and the intersection income has within these systems of oppression. My lack of explanation lead many students to believe that I meant solely African Americans experienced oppression within our country.
One of my classmates who is African American later told me that many students were asking a million questions about oppression of the entire black community without the knowledge of the class/income intersection. While in my group only one student asked about how these oppression’s effect Latinx people with my community. She was shocked to hear that I was Latinx and said I must not feel racism as much as those who are darker skinned than me. I told her she wasn’t wrong.
Picture taken on a busy shopping day at Commercial Street in Bangalore.
When I talked to my classmate after the presentation it was slightly awkward although I was happy she reached out to me. From that point on I always explain who people of color are when I’m describing myself or others in similar situations. Most importantly I make sure to include that my experience is not the experience of all people of color.
This entire situation pushed me to reckon with being light skinned and identifying as a person of color. I’ve realize that some people won’t understand my identity therefore I must recognize the white privilege I carry when talking about issues of racism. Through this experience I’ve learned that talking about racism is uncomfortable within and outside of America but its something we have to do if we want anything to change.
Picture taken at Christ University in Bangalore on Sari day.