Campus Racism 101
AP English, Period 7
Nikki Giovanni’s Campus Racism 101 discusses the racial turbulence that African Americans encounter when attending predominantly white colleges. Giovanni compares these issues to situations in today’s society, which accentuates their similarity. Equivalent to the teasing of black students in any school environment, African Americans are discriminated against in most real-life situations. Giovanni believes that, because this is true, it is better to cope with racism than to lose yourself in it. The ignorance of today’s society situates all African Americans into one group rather than unique individuals, which develops racist and stereotypical opinions of the white mentality.
In her essay, Giovanni examines the differences between college and prison. Although the African Americans who are in prison have committed crimes, students of the same race who attend white colleges are treated similarly. In prison, racist comments are usually settled with violence. In college, however, it is nearly impossible to incorporate inappropriate behavior. Giovanni suggests responding to these comments with intelligence. “Comment: When I see groups of Black people on campus, it’s really intimidating. A: I understand what you mean. I’m frightened when I see white students congregating” (Giovanni, 1994). The categorization of African Americans reflecting dangerous criminals is one of the many results of racist speculations.
In a college environment, it is important to respond maturely to any unfair or distasteful situation. There is an obvious discomfort in attending classes that include professors and students who are not easily accepting of colored students. Giovanni’s essay provides helpful approaches to these difficult positions. She encourages black students to put aside the racial comments and do whatever possible to fully succeed. “You must discriminate among your professors to see who will give you the help you...
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