Racism and Prejudice at State College
America: the home of the brave and the free, the "melting pot." America: a society of endless possibilities and promises. We as Americans have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Or do we? On what do these rights depend? Power? Power is the ability to influence another's mind. Though expressed in many ways, power is not always accessible. One's social, economic, ethical, and racial status determine how much power one can have--the cultural majority has the power. In American society, culture plays a pivotal role in our everyday life and experiences. What happens when one's identity or sense of self is lost in the melting pot?
Who I am and what race or culture I belonged to never seemed to be an issue until I came to State College--everyone around me was the same race and belongs to the same culture it never seems to be an issue. More and more, as I roam this campus, I find myself asking the same questions: do I belong here? Is this the place for me? Who am I? I always come to the same conclusions: I'm me, Emanuel Simmons, the same person who came as a freshman but with more knowledge now. I ask myself, "Who was Emanuel Simmons as a freshman?" and I realize that to figure out where I belong, I must first figure out who I am.
State College is a fine institution of learning with a great deal of promise. When I first arrived at State College I was caught off guard. I was an eighteen-year-old, young black man coming from a big-time city to a small town. I had my share of trouble, and I was a little naïve but not innocent. I was in college, away from family and friends and on my own; nothing could stop me now. I was on top of the world, floating like a free balloon. Who knew that I was about to face a reality so strong that I might not make it out?
So eager to get out and meet people and make new friends, I was quick to just go walking and roaming around this beautiful campus. As I came in contact with people I would speak: "hey, how you doing" or "what's up?"--but I'd get little or no response smile. This didn't seem to bother me at first, for I was a new face and no one knew who I was. Anyway, time would change that soon; everyone would know my name, I thought, and be happy to speak. Little did I suspect, it wasn't that they didn't know who I was; it was that they didn't care to know who I was! Time went on and it seemed as though I rarely saw a black face, but I shook it off--maybe they stayed in doing work. Unknown to me, there were only a few blacks here, and half of them didn't like each other. So here I was, Emanuel Simmons, this city boy with high hopes of coming to college and taking everyone by storm with excellent grades and great potential. They would never know what hit them. Still naïve and speaking to everyone who crossed my path, I knew this was the place for me. It was quiet, relaxed, and I had lots of time to spend on my studies, with no distractions. I was...