Do I have a stamp on my forehead that reads, “National Spokesperson for people of color?” No.
I am not a spokesperson for people of color, and no, you should not always come to me to get educated on the injustices that people of color face.
Despite the fact that racial sensitivity training is required for many professions, we should not be waiting until we get into the workforce to be educated on racial sensitivity. And we should not always look to people of color to be our core educators on the injustices many minorities face in this country.
As a person of color, I believe that taking a course on racial sensitivity should be another requirement in order to graduate from a university. In order to be fully equipped with skills to go out into the workforce after graduation, we also need to be aware of what the people of color in our workforce may go through.
With today’s climate, we can no longer ignore many of the injustices that those around us face. And as educators, college professors are among those that need to be trained on racial sensitivity. Not only because it would allow them to better connect with more of their students, but because racial sensitivity should start in the classroom as well.
Just like any other person, educators have implicit biases they may not be aware of, which could be harming their students of color. As individuals who have a desire for furthering their education, racial sensitivity training is not something that should be seen as difficult to undergo for those looking to enter the teaching profession.
Racial sensitivity for educators could look like many things. One course could be on self-identity, because in order to better understand others, one must first understand their own identity. Another course that could be offered would be one that explores stereotypes and microaggressions. A course on the historical marginalization of students of color in this country would also be vital in better understanding their students of color.
What this could look like for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is implementing courses for professors of this university to undergo in the summer before they welcome more new students. Holding seminars that professors would be required to devote a certain amount of hours to would be another way to do it. Starting with courses that explore stereotypes and microaggressions would help professors to better understand and connect with all of their students before the beginning of a new school year.
It should also be noted that with this past summer's events, students are demanding more racial sensitivity training in their universities than ever. While our history classes have taught us that there have been a lot of past injustices in this country, the events regarding police brutality have further exposed us all to the injustices that are still being faced by many in this country.
It goes without saying that students of color have become exhausted from overcompensating to make up for the failure of universities nationwide when it comes to combating racism. It shouldn’t be the responsibility of student unions across the nation to demand more from their universities. Rather, it is up to universities to do more for all of their students when it comes to combating the issues their students of color face.
I believe requiring a racial sensitivity introductory course in order to graduate from a university, including all undergraduate, graduate and professional schools, will only become even more crucial when it comes to engaging with colleagues of different backgrounds in the workforce.
Every university has a lot to gain in requiring racial sensitivity courses, and that is unity. In a country where we are deeply divided, there is no question that a course pertaining to racial sensitivity would only help us when it comes to creating a sense of unity in our universities.
It’s safe to say that not every individual has grown up in a diverse community where they’ve been exposed to individuals from all different backgrounds. And as one leaves the comfort of their homes before arriving at college, who is to say that they have been fully educated on what their peers of color face?
While a bachelor’s degree may be what determines individuals as qualified for the job, are universities making sure that their students are qualified to be working with people of all different backgrounds when they enter the workforce?
As a person of color, I do not want to be educating my colleagues on racial sensitivity in my 40s. The only way to make sure that won’t happen is with mandatory racial sensitivity training for all college students.
Evelyn Mejia is a freshman broadcast journalism major. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org