Bridging the Gap is a partnership between The Bridge and The Chronicle that explores race, gender and marginalization at Duke and beyond.
Part 1 of the first episode is a session on diversity and what diversity often means emotionally for those students on campus who have dealt with the sort of discrimination or marginalization we often like to think doesn't happen at Duke. Below are some quotes from the episode, reflecting the issues voiced by students and by a professor who studies social identities and interracial interactions.
“So any time anyone experiences a form of discrimination or prejudice, it's of course completely demoralizing. It makes you feel not worthy, it makes you feel undervalued, it makes your entire existence feel questioned, and there's no magical solution or band-aid that you can put on an instance of discrimination. And what we know from a lot of psychology research is that the more discrimination someone faces—let's take this within the race and ethnicity context—usually that equates to how minority you look.”
-Sarah Gaither, professor of psychology and neuroscience
“I think I've always realized that, like, the white experience in any space is different than my experience, just because when I grew up, I grew up in a very white community. So like, that made me very aware of the differences between racial experiences from a really young age. You know, I think for me, being Asian, racism doesn't manifest as overtly for me, it's a lot more micro-aggressive, for the most part, at least . . . when Coronavirus hit, you know, there was a lot more overt racism.”
-Cynthia Dong, Class of 2023
“I do remember really vividly that the Black folks on campus were really trying to, kind of, form alliances and to have places to talk about what it was to be sort of this minority group on campus. And, I remember, I want to say it might have been like sophomore or junior year, where there were a couple of racist incidents that happened on campus. And we had . . . like a sit-in and a gathering to protest these instances, and that, you know, it was reported to The Chronicle and things like that. And I can't say that I was surprised.”
-Alyah Baker, master’s student in dance Class of 2021, Trinity ‘03
“Just the social culture at Duke is built on segregation. A lot of it on racial lines or, sort of, you know, identity. But just in general we have so many people, like the majority of Duke students that are either Greek affiliated or in SLGs. And that kind of thing just . . . it prevents people from wanting to talk to anyone new or outside of their immediate sort of comfort zone and social circle.”
-Ayesham Khan, Class of 2023
“It's almost like the world around me just doesn't want me to succeed. The world around me is actually working, actively working against me, and my peers, and it's just making it harder and making our lives more difficult as we, you know, seek and move forward towards our goals . . . so it feels a lot more difficult to really feel like I belong where I am now, just in this country, in general, and on this campus. I just kind of feel like a stranger.”
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-Tobi Akinyelu, Class of 2021