Did someone neglect to tell me that when I decided to live the next four years in Washington D.C., I wouldn’t be living out my plans for the future; I’d actually be traveling back in time to the 1950s. Unfortunately, that seems to be how things are shaping up. Before winter break we had a couple of “isolated instances” involving race here on campus and, as I perused the newspapers and watched CNN while home, racial tensions seemed omnipresent (i.e. Trent Lott’s comments and “fish out of water” appearance on BET). This obviously is not the noblest way to start off the New Year in such a globally aware and metropolitan city. Correct me if I’m mistaken, but the diversity of Georgetown, located in the international capital of the world, is one of the many factors that enticed many of us to apply here.

I’m no Reverend, my name isn’t Jesse Jackson, and frankly, I don’t think it’s necessary to preach to anyone here. We’ve all had Martin Luther King Jr.’s words poured into our ears since grade school and no matter how bad your schooling, I trust that at some time in your existence in this post-plantation society you’ve come across the term “racial awareness” or at least something akin to it. To me, things in life are usually humorous and I try my best to find the comic lining in every gloomy thunderstorm, but race relations should not be taken lightly. One case in point is the ongoing violence that plagues the Middle East because of the ingrained divisions that exist between the peoples there. Obviously there are other underlying reasons besides race, such as land, religion and vengeance that spur on the violence, but nowadays some Jewish people hate Palestinians simply because they are Palestinian and some Palestinians hate Jews simply because they are Jewish. It would be idiotic to let our community descend into a similar state of madness due to race.

Back home in Miami, the major minority groups of this country – blacks and Hispanics – are the majority. It certainly is not some kind of utopia where everyone gets along because “whitey is not around to bring us down,” but basically everyone grows up understanding that people in the world just happen to be of different nationalities and races. If anyone has a problem with it, he has three choices: bite his tongue and live, display his dislike for other races and die or leave and find a place elsewhere to live out his ignorance. Life achieves a shaky, but livable, equilibrium in this setting; though we’re not all happy, we know what is socially acceptable with all the clashing of cultures.

So, when it came time for me to leave for Georgetown, my parents made a huge deal about me going to a place where whites were the majority. The lengthy speech usually went something to the tune of, “You should always stand up for yourself and never forget your culture and be proud like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods and eat as much chicken and okra as you want (despite the fact that I don’t like okra) and do not take any crap from anyone”.

I tuned them out. You know why? I had faith that this country had progressed far enough to realize, though racism is one of the saddest chapters in American history, it wasn’t going to be promoted or practiced in any way by the members of my generation. And I still hold on to that faith. Clearly, in the same way a short person like me won’t grow five inches overnight, there may be a few isolated people who won’t change overnight and will always harbor resentment towards people of another race no matter what Dr. King, Jesse Jackson or I say. However, I’m just as sure the majority of us here know not to use racial slurs. We’re all too smart for that; isn’t that why we’re all here? This is why I’m positive these rumblings and accusations will only be remembered as unusual isolated incidents and are not due to any symbolic Twilight Zone journey into the past. That would just be weird.

Chenel Josaphat is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service.

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