BLOG | Cherokee Ronolo-Valdez
Privilege is extremely prevalent within society, and you will encounter it constantly on college campuses. It is beyond important that we address our own privileges on a regular basis. As an alumnus of Denver South High, I was exposed to an immense amount of cultures: 45 languages, 65 countries, students from around the world, and peers who had just begun their journey in the United States. This is my privilege. I was exposed to a multitude of cultures which allows me to keep an open mind. This has not been the case for everyone.
College has been a culture shock. Culture shock is a noun with the definition of, “The feeling of disorientation experienced by someone when they are suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes.” Within the walls of my university, I am surrounded by strong minded people, whose opinions do not always match my own.
Some individuals in this world genuinely fail to recognize their privileges. Over the past two years I have realized I have two choices when it comes to these individuals: ignore them or call out their nonsense. I typically choose the latter. My university preaches an “inclusive” community, yet “inclusiveness” is not their top priority. In a particular situation involving a leadership class, we were to complete a scavenger hunt with a group for a lesson in feedback. My professor was not expecting me to give him feedback. On the list was “take a video of a teammate acting out their spirit animal.” I refused to allow my team to complete this item and explained to them--and my professor-- that spirit animals are part of Native American culture and religion. They are sacred, and there is a process that individuals go through in order to find their spirit animal. It is not something they choose; it is not something they joke about. This item was culturally insensitive. This was in my leadership class. This class is meant to teach us how to be better leaders, better individuals, and how to be more inclusive. My professor had no ill intentions, but he also was completely uninformed about spirit animals and the Native American culture. It is impossible to have an inclusive community if one’s educators in leadership are not educated on allcultures. It is impossible to have an inclusive community if it is not a top priority of the university.
Being on campus for the first time was a culture shock to me and it is still something I am adjusting to nearly two years later. Students of diverse backgrounds are thrown into a world which lacks the privilege of understanding inclusive excellence; we can either ignore the ignorance, or we can call out the nonsense. I choose to continue to educate those that fail to recognize their privilege in the hopes of leaving campus a little more inclusive.
“Sí, Se Puede” is a phrase born of farmworkers, who, under the leadership of the UFW, César Chávez, and Dolores Huerta, fought valiantly for equal protection under the law. As a result of the efforts of the UFW, “Sí, Se Puede” has become well known as a call that engenders hope and inspiration in those who face similar battles. We thank the UFW, whom we acknowledge to be the sole and exclusive owner of the Trademark SI SE PUEDE, for granting us a limited license to use“Sí, Se Puede” in connection with our efforts to recruit, in Colorado, students of Hispanic or Latino descent for our law school pipeline program. For more information about the programs offered by the UFW, please see UFW’s webpage (www.ufw.org); UFW Foundation’s webpage (www.ufwfoundation.org); and UFWF’s immigration services webpage (www.sisepuede.org)