PWI stands for Predominately White Institution. I didn’t know what a PWI was until I came to Drake.
Although I went to a predominately white high school for many years, my friends and family were there to fill the void of diversity. In college, there’s none of that.
When I first came to Drake in 2016, it was during their break. So none was on campus. I was promised, at that time, that there were minorities here; that Drake was a diverse campus. Little did I know blacks made up 3% of the population.
The idea of being surrounded by new people who were nothing like me scared me. I lost that emotional security that I had before I moved to college.
Not only did I lose that emotional security, I entered a whole new community that had different culture. Let me tell you, When my admissions advisor told me that Des Moines was like a small Minneapolis, he was not telling the whole truth. Des Moines is like a Minneapolis without the culture and mix in a bit or racism and xenophobia.
My freshman year was the year that Phinlando Castile was murdered in Falcon Heights, MN. During that same time, racist language was written on the door f one of my fellow classmates of color. I was shocked.
I was used to police being violent and racist towards black people, but I was not accustomed to normal people, white people, being racist towards minorities.
As the years went on, instances like the one that happened my freshman year kept occurring. sometimes it was swastikas, other times is was the word “nigger”, and even other times it was words like “monkey” and “ape”.
I slowly became accustomed to it. Drake University was somewhat supportive and vocalized against it. But it kept happening. Soon I began to believe that racism was a way fo life for these people. Who am I to change that?
This year, it was different. It wasn’t just words of hatred. It was a threat. A threat of violence; maybe death. We perhaps never know. But it was clear that black and brown were not wanted on this Campus.
I was hearing conflicting messages.The Administration said that we belonged. Faculty said that we belonged. Many students had said that we belonged. But We were still dealing with the same type of people that we have been dealing with for the last 3 years.
My time at PWI was successful. I will be graduating with two degrees in the spring. I have made some long lasting friendships. I have made connections with some influential people. But I has taught me that this is America.
America is not the dream that Martin talked about. There’s no hope that Barack talked about. That future that we look forward to of total equality is a bit further than we had imagined.
I have not questioned my belonging, I have questioned the world that we live in. And, why it hasn’t changed.