CSU students talk about experiences with racism

Israa Eldeiry

Omo Odia, an African-American senior business marketing major, was featured in a documentary about racism in Fort Collins, produced and directed by Betty Aragon and Shari Due, called “Fort Collins, A Choice City for Whom?” This documentary was created in order to shed light to authorities about racism and social inclusion in Fort Collins.

In the film, Odia talks about how racism is such a constant part of her life to the point where she cannot even count how many times she has been called the “N”-word.

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Odia said her initial reaction is to get angry and stand up for herself. But, holding back her frustration has allowed her to start looking at things from a different perspective.

Over the years, Odia has learned that anger is not the solution to racism, but that being patient and taking an educational approach is more effective.

“I am here to help lead you to educate yourself,” Odia said. “I can tell people that I am still oppressed, but not everyone experience the oppression, so not everyone will believe me.”

Jamez Crawford, a fourth year economics major who identifies as Black and Hispanic, said he is proud of his identity regardless of what people say or do to him.

“Different cultures have a lot to offer,” Crawford said. “It is important for students to learn and educate themselves about them.”

Although Vivi Tran, a second year bio med student who identifies as Vietnamese-American, feels welcomed at CSU, she wishes more people would be willing to have conversations about race.

“I understand that race is a sensitive subject, but I want students to know that the goal of these conversations are to create a safe environment and raise awareness,” Tran said. “There conversations are not meant to attack anyone.”

Odi acknowledged she has privileges as well, such as being able-bodied and having the opportunity to get an education.

“Having privileges is not about feeling bad that one has them, it just means people have to be aware and help those who aren’t privileged,” Odi said.

Dianahi Sanchez, a second year international student who identifies as a Latina, says she hasn’t had bad experiences regarding her identity.

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“Part of that is because I have light skin and light-colored hair,” Sanchez said. “People usually get surprised when they know I speak Spanish.”

Sanchez said she wishes people had more understanding about differences between people within cultures.

“I myself fall into the mistake of categorizing people too quickly,” Sanchez said. “But it is important that people take a moment to know a person before making assumptions.”

Despite the negative impacts of racism, Crawford said he has learned from these experiences.

“The racist and prejudicial experiences I have had won’t stop me from getting through school and accomplishing my goals, they have actually molded me into the strong person I am today,” Crawford said. “But, that in no way makes mistreatment okay.”

Collegian Reporter Israa Eldeiry can be reached at news@collegian.com or via Twitter @israaeldeiry.