By Brandon Gonzalez, Fellow Class of 2018
Colorado State University
When signing up for classes for my last semester of undergrad, I needed to take an upper division level course to help me fulfill the requirements for my Interdisciplinary Legal Studies minor. I decided to take Race Formation in the United States because the professor offering the class has been a great support for undocumented students at CSU. It was my first ever Ethnic Studies class and I did not know what to expect.
The first day of classes, I walk in and see an extremely diverse group of students. Throughout the previous seven semesters at two different universities, I had never seen as classroom as diverse as this one. As an Economics major, most classes were predominantly white (specially at my first university where I was usually always the only student of color) with very few students of color. Stepping in to a class where I saw many other people who shared the same traits and qualities as me and every day I cannot wait until I have to go to this class because I feel comfortable and free of judgement from the professor and my classmates.
Prior to the class, I had an understanding that racism exists and the way the United States exists today has disenfranchised people of color due to racism. This was only a very vague understanding of racism. The readings the professor assigned were long, sometimes difficult to read due to the disgusting actions and extent that people have gone and still go to in order to suppress others that they deem inferior. Nevertheless, the readings, I found to be interesting because they detail events, actions, and legislation in history by people with the only intent to put people of color at a disadvantage.
I tend to think of the world as progressing. Examples of what I mean by the world progressing are the ruling of Brown v. Board of Education, the implementation of Title IX, and the ruling of Roe v. Wade. Throughout the semester, after reading how overtly racist people were in their efforts to suppress people of color, I wondered if people see the events that I consider progressive as a form of regression. I wonder how people can truly believe that inequality and racism is better than equality for all.
Another interesting point the professor and the readings have allowed me to realize is that the United States was built by white men with a foundation of racism, exclusively for white men. One easy example is the acceptance of slavery as lawful. The other major key point for how white men constructed this country specifically to keep whites in the majority is through the implementation of the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924. The Johnson-Reed Act established a group of people that should be allowed or worthier to immigrate to the United States and another group of people that are less deserving because of their “inability to properly assimilate and contribute to the country.” Interestingly, some of the same rhetoric can be heard under the current presidential administration.