Upon walking on this campus freshman year, I couldn’t help but notice that the color of my skin stood out. I’m a part of the minority. I’m Hispanic/Latinx, and I’m very proudly so.
According to College Factual, 23.9 percent of students at PLNU are Hispanic/Latinx; 55.2 percent of students are white. Most of my friends are white. My boyfriend is white. I simply accepted early on that most of the people around me would be white.
Being Hispanic on this campus isn’t always fun. Most of my friends here don’t understand the life I live at home, and my family doesn’t understand the life I live here; however, students at Loma don’t seem to want to understand or acknowledge that there is a divide.
There come times when, although I adore my friends and the professors that surround me, I can’t help but feel like I’m alone. Sometimes, I walk into a room afraid someone won’t give me a chance because of the color of my skin. I’m afraid that the really cool girl in class won’t want to be friends with me because I’m Hispanic. I’ve gotten into arguments with boys on this campus who have told me that it doesn’t matter that I get better grades than them because I already have a disadvantage because I am a Hispanic woman.
People automatically assume I am Mexican because I speak Spanish, and don’t seem to care when I attempt to explain that speaking Spanish doesn’t equate to being Mexican. The special dish I grew up eating was called “poor people’s food.” The food I am proud of brought me shame for the first time in my life while hearing someone talk about it who wasn’t open to trying it.
All people, from all corners of the world and walks of life, bring so much to the table. It’s discouraging to hear this from the same people who feel the need to go out and “save” people who look like me on a missions trip to El Salvador or Guatemala, but not treat me or my Hispanic friends with the same love they treat my family back there.
I’ve been at Loma for three years, and only four friends have ever asked what my experience as a Hispanic girl on this campus has been. Others assume my life and my experience is no different from their own; others don’t seem to care at all.
The “color-blindness” concept is a way out. To be open to hearing one’s history is a way to learn to love them better. Not stereotyping them and asking questions will open people’s hearts and minds. I know my experience is not everyone’s experience, but I hope that sharing mine in 500 words or less will help open hearts and minds to hear these stories, and in turn, love people all the more and all the better for it.
Jessica Fernandez is a junior political science major.