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Carolyn Gill

Graduate student in business marketingAnti-racism is:

Anti-racism to me is making a conscious decision to acknowledge that systemic racial injustice and discrimination currently exists, as well as understanding that certain people hold privileges over others and experience life differently.

Finding the Beauty in my Uniqueness

I was fortunate to be born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, where it’s so diverse.

Growing up, it felt good to see people who looked like me and to get to know those who were different. My parents also instilled in me the idea that it’s OK to have friends that don’t look like you. With that mindset and my ability to quickly make friends, I never found reasons to discriminate against or dislike someone based on anything related to race.

Growing up in Oakland, I’ve had “The Talk” and I’ve also listened in on conversations my parents had with my younger brother. If the police ever stopped us, we had to make sure our hands were visible; we spoke clearly using “yes sir/ma’am;” and we didn’t make any swift movements. My parents made it clear that I would get pulled over for DWB (driving while Black).

No, I don’t think there will ever be a time that we won’t have to talk about racism. Although history is in the past, it repeats itself and has shaped so much of this country’s current systems, laws, curricula, prejudices and more. Talking about racism also helps people not be ignorant or insensitive to someone of a different ethnicity or skin color.

Those talks from my parents came rushing back this past summer as the world protested social injustice and the murder of George Floyd. It’s been challenging to watch history repeat itself in the middle of a pandemic.

And being away from home made it harder to figure out ways to cope. In reaction to the recurring instances of racial injustice, I went through a flood of emotions like anger, confusion, disbelief and helplessness. Having to see a new hashtag of another dead Black person almost every day made me want to disconnect from my social media. It was emotionally draining.

Every day I felt on edge because I didn’t know what would happen, nor could I do anything to help the situation immediately.

I’ve made it a point to focus more on my mental health by doing things like more self-care/love and creating a better work-life balance. I’ve also joined Big West Undivided, a conference-wide diversity, equity and inclusion committee.

If the past summer events prove anything, I believe we will always have to talk about racism.

From now on, I want to bring about change by educating myself on Black history and being open to sharing my experiences with others. Education, I believe, will give me a better appreciation of the differences that make me unique and find commonality with people or cultures that are outside of my unique Black experience.

Carolyn Gill is a business marketing graduate student and a starting forward on the Titans women’s basketball team. She is a member of the Big West Undivided Committee, a conference-wide diversity, equity and inclusion group seeking ways to combat racism, fight for social justice, and support the Black Lives Matter movement and other nonviolent organizations.

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