– Author –
It is hard when someone assumes that you are an ally in their disrespect and hateful comments just because of the color of your skin.
I was at a small social gathering and someone made the comment, “I wish I could go to Aldi without being slowed down by all the Somali people, it just takes forever to leave and their children run around everywhere”. I politely responded to this person and said that no matter what grocery store you go into, there are going to be lines and that all children run around or may cry if they are upset. I also added that it is extremely disrespectful to make such comments about people.
It is sometimes difficult for me to even hear people say things like this, and it’s difficult that they think I am an ally in the hatred towards people. However, I am beginning to have conversations and confront people when they are using racial slurs, jokes, and comments no matter who the person is. Before, I used to only speak out when I felt comfortable and felt that it was my place to say something. Now I know that staying quiet is not acceptable and I have had those difficult conversations with coworkers or family members.
When Unite Cloud came to my class, they talked about how it can be hard to accept that family members of yours participate in the racism, hate, and painful stereotypes of others. A couple weeks ago, I had a family reunion where an aunt of mine blatantly asked, “So how do you like St. Cloud, are you careful at night with all the Somali people there?” It caught me so off guard that she would say such a thing but I responded by explaining to her how hurtful stereotypes are and that I am careful at night in every town I am in which has nothing to do with certain groups of people.
To get out in the community and make a difference, I attended Project Homeless Connect. I volunteered in the kids’ area and was able to talk with families and parents. I found the experience to be extremely rewarding and I think the value of actually having conversations and getting to know someone is so important. There are often so many stereotypes when it comes to the homeless such as “they should just get a job”, “they are lazy”, or “they got themselves into this mess”. No one knows someone’s life story or knows the many obstacles in someone’s life that has led them to where they are now. Instead of judging someone by what we think we know by harmful stereotypes ingrained in our society, I believe that the value of actually getting to know someone is so important. Respect for one another is important in a community and Unite Cloud strives for this to happen.
Caroline is a student at St. Cloud State University.