Viewpoint #19

Written by a student under the label of “good minority”, “minority”, “diversity factor to the power of 100”, “person called by the name of the two other people on campus that happen to be the same race” and/or a female student of William Smith college that entered her first year recently.

To me, the shifting skies were always a turncoat- for the purples and blues of grassy sunsets, the bright smiles to tiring eyes, the warmth of the sun to the cold of the night- a deepening discomfort from a previous elation.

Walking the Quad, I caught the eye of the moon, hallow and vivid, porcelain amongst a sea clay, a light to behold and to dismay- it hung upon me, forbearing and old. Next to it, the American flag we all held dear, as small children, unknowing and undefined by our differences (yet), waved back and forth, bidding me a goodbye and a hello back and forth- an echo of what I am told of my place here.

Power is significant. So much so that I often question its purpose. There is too much of it, too little, too noticeable, too insignificant, too immeasurable, too measurable too much of all things that I forget sometimes, what it feels like to be without power, but this campus makes it its prerogative to remind me, taunt me, haunt me, follow me around until I always never again forget, I have no power.

“The Good Minority.” The first time I heard the term, I was astonished. Defined to me by a sister, it described my experience to a detail that I had not known existed.

“They listen to you because you’re the good minority”

I had to let it sink in for a bit. Is that why they listen to me? Do my beliefs, viewpoints, opinions, life experiences, 13+ years of education, semester of college and countless hours of studying not account for any of it?

No, I thought to myself, they listen to me because-

And my mind played fickle once again, keeping that answer from me, hiding it beneath unforeseeable layers.

Of course, I had an answer, I reassured myself.

Did I?

What makes you stand out? Asks every interviewer, gray suit and glasses camouflaging into the dull drab of forgetfulness their interviewees will put them in as soon as the door shuts close behind them.

I believe my position as (insert irrelevant experience, job, or extracurricular here) has allowed me to gain a better understanding of (insert insignificant noun). In addition, I have a diversity of experiences that have allowed me to improve my communicative abilities and interpersonal skills.

I am black and none of you are, so hire me because I have a diversity of experiences.

I am brown and none of you are, so hire me because I have a diversity of experiences.

I am gay and none of you are, so hire me because I have a diversity of experiences.

Diversity of experiences.

Diversity

There it is, our holy spirit-a signal of the good to come and the doors to be shut, a pigeon-holing, alienating, god-willing term- do we not all love it?

“I think diversity is so important” says the women wrinkling her nose at the predominantly Latinx ‘bad part of town.’ “Don’t go there” she advised to another person, confident and secure in her position as a good person.

“We need to improve diversity” says the man who dances around racism and sexism, as if his feet are on fire, ready to break all the egg shells he spread on the floor.

And what did the Bible Proverbs 19:2 say?

And what did the Quran 25:63 say? Asked the professors, three PHD’s and far too much wisdom.

Hands down, all white-there it is

The brown hand

The black hand

The gay hand

HUSH ALL, The minority is speaking, she who has no knowledge or history in religion.

The minority, the ultimate authority on all things minority.

God bless our diversity. Praise us for we have done well.

“It’s because you are the Good minority”

But what does that mean?

You are the exception. You don’t cause problems. It’s all the other ones that do.

Honey, you want to be black and smoke pot?

Criminal activity. Violation of student conduct. Breach of community standards.

All members of the audience, please rise. Let us have a moment of silence for the death of the “good minority”. Let us pray she survive upon her inevitable resurrection as the “problem student”, “drug dealer”, “all-around dangerous criminal.” Pray for her soul, bless her reputation, for it exits no longer, she was a good minority while she lasted.

Honey, you want to be white and smoke pot?

Not a problem. College kids are college kids.

We’re all college kids, what do you mean? The small voice in my head asked.

But they spoke again.

You do as they say. You’ve risen despite adversity- all the other minorities should look to you, the token success. You’re working within the system.

Within the system? The small voice asked again.

Am I not part of the system? Wait, why are we all separate from the system? Do I only succeed because I am not part of the system or because I conformed to it? Am I conforming?

I walk across the quad and the American flag waves at me, back and forth, over and over again, it’s white stripes streaking color across the black sky.

Which color?

“Hobart and William Smith Colleges prides itself on pursuing diversity.”

Not my color or yours. Now it’s theirs.

Whose? The voice asked again.

The flag and all its fifty stars stare down at me, on a pole, on height I can never reach.

Am I just the good minority?

Am I successful?

Am I successful because I earned it or because it looks better?

Why do I have to be the one, singled out, a force within or against the system- can’t I just be?

The moon looks down on me, porcelain and gold, white and yellow, a sea of clay below it- unanswered and unafraid.

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