If living far from home is the measure of success, my family is very successful. We migrated from the Philippines this year because my mother is a nurse at Fairhaven Senior Services. Since March, we’ve experienced living without furniture, insurance, green cards, and social security numbers. And since then, we’ve also made countless trips to the Community Space and Goodwill, looking for cheap secondhand finds and anything good enough to take home. In short, we’re fresh off the boat; and we are navigating through living a life in this country.
I am thankful that the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is a school which advocates for diversity and inclusion. It means a lot for people like me who may feel alienated by the shift in environment. Knowing what the administration has done to forward inclusivity has helped me embrace my national identity and helped make others understand what it means to be a person of color. The Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion has created forums, programs, and events targeted towards cultural minorities to allow us to have the same college experience as you do.
I never thought I’d be in America. I never thought that inclusivity would be a battle that we fight for on the daily. Because even though one place is diverse, it doesn’t automatically entail to it being inclusive. Whitewater had a diversity rate of 83% over the past year, with only 6% who identify as people of Latinx heritage. This is relatively low as compared to other schools; but the real concern here isn’t the statistics. What we should be focusing on is how exactly do we make our university a better place for the existing 17%?
Dr. Kenny E. Yarbrough, our university’s Chief Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Officer, said that diversity isn’t necessarily good nor bad. In simpler terms, diversity is difference — whether it be race, culture, ethnicity, or upbringing. What we have to do is work on these differences for the betterment of everyone. Either way, everyone in this community must come together in unity because it affects us all as a whole.
People of color should share their lived experiences. This helps us have a voice in what we’ve been through — the struggles we’ve faced that they might not understand. It also allows us to let them know that we are here and we exist. Know that you are not alone in this battle. On the other hand, white allies should acknowledge their privilege. Allow people of color to claim our own space. Listen to our stories. Resist the “savior” complex. Spread awareness and have accountability. Most importantly, start small. Share the fight towards racial injustice with your friends.
I wrote this article with the hopes of having people understand me and people like me. If living far away from home is the measure of success, then support those who are. You may not know everything that we’ve been through, but you do know this. This is my testament.