The “I, Too, Am” fad

The “I, Too, Am” fad is sweeping the nation’s colleges, and our college caught the bug. What is the “I, Too, Am” campaign?

The campaign started at Harvard College. I, Too, Am Harvard is a campaign primarily expressed as a collection of photos that been posted on Tumblr to illustrate the personal experiences of black students at Harvard University. The multimedia project was the result of interviews with over 60 Harvard undergraduate students holding signs bearing messages about the experiences of Black students at Harvard.

At our university, it was brought forward by a couple of university students and was picked up by groups such as the Women’s Resource Center and members of the Unite dominated CU Student Government. I don’t have a problem with a fad that turned into a sort of a campaign, but claiming that you “see past color” or see past any part of a person’s identity strips them of that identity.

First of all, someones race, gender identity, and sexual orientation defines who someone is on every level. It is something that cannot just be ignored. You cannot say to someone that “you do not see race” or “you see past your sexual orientation”. It is almost a denial of who they are. Minority groups throughout American history have used what makes them unique and different to define who they are, what they believe in, and the general culture of their groups.

Second of all, America is a melting pot of different peoples from all over the world. Although we all came together for the same opportunities, our immigrant families tended to congregate in areas where they were around people that were similar to them, and that included people of all races. We want to be around people that look like us. That is human nature. A white person, no matter how non-racist they are, probably won’t be completely at home with a large group of black people. That is the way humans are. It is also in our nature to point out differences and it has been a part of the entire history of the world to oppress those who are fewer in number than the majority. The entire history of the United States is dominated by the oppression of the White Christian establishment and we sought to put down every other group that is not white and Christian, even to this day.

White Christians will never know what it is like to be Black and oppressed. Even if they think they understand, they don’t understand. Don’t try to understand. Also, don’t attempt to look past that. It is an important part of their identity and gives rise to the diversity of people around the world. We should not look past color or sexual orientation, but we should not react negatively to them. People don’t choose to be gay or black, but they are and the fact that they are stuck with being who they are alone should be good enough for us to accept and move on. We need to treat them like we treat every other human being because that is who they are when it comes down to it.

As a campus, CU can do a lot to improve social collaboration on campus. People will tend to congregate with people that they are comfortable with, but we should all be accepting of those differences between groups.

I also think that everyone has faced some sort of discrimination for their identity. Even though I am a white male and am a part of the “majority”, I have a mental condition that is a high functioning form of autism that has caused me great heartache over the years from people who do not understand why I act in the way that I do. My Asperger’s Syndrome may not define me on the outside, but it is because of it that I am socially the way I am, have the interests that I have, and accomplished the things that I accomplished.

When I lose a friend or it turns out that someone I thought that was a friend really was not, it affects me greatly. It has happened at least a dozen times in my life and it has sometimes shaped me into the person that I am today. The people who did that will never understand what I went through or what I am going through. None of them probably have low self-esteem, depression, or Asperger’s Syndrome. They may not know what it is like to have few friends or to be made fun of for their interests. Although it has been more systematic for people with different skin colors or different sexual orientations, I experienced prejudice as well on a more informal scale.

People can be mean and that stems from a lack of understanding. When we understand the history of the people and what they went through, we will never have to “see past color”. We will have to see that color or that sexual orientation and we will have to treat others the way that we want to be treated. For most of us, CU may be the first place where we see any kind of diversity and we may not be used to it at all. As humans, we will always be looking for the next group to put down. It is a never ending cycle of oppression and it is something that will inevitably continue. The acknowledgement of these things is a step in the right direction to changing people’s lives for the better