Student airs views on racism, growing up a minority in SD

Brandon Williams

Brandon Williams

A couple of weeks ago, three friends and I went to a bar downtown to have a few beers. As the hours passed, more and more people began to arrive, and people started to become increasingly intoxicated. I was having a good time until I noticed a guy talking aggressively and making gestures in my direction.

As paranoia goes, I watched and waited to see if these people were talking about me. They continued on, as one of my friends was brought into their little circle for introductions.

I saw the hint of slight unease pass over her face as she mentioned something to them and made her way back to our table. When I asked her, ‘so, what did those guys have to say?,’ she replied, ‘Oh, he was talking about how he was supposed to be going off to war, and that he would be fighting guys like him,” as she made reference to me.

Apparently, this person was under the mistaken impression that I am Iraqi. Understandably so, because up until last week I was trying to be cool and sport a full beard. But I’m sorry to say, I am mulatto.

So if you’re going to try and stir up some attention at the bar, make sure that you are not getting your nationalities all muddled up. You wouldn’t want to look like an ass.

I’ve been asked to write a column based on my experiences being born and raised in South Dakota in communities which are pre-dominantly white.

First, I would like to clear the air and say that it wasn’t, and still isn’t, hard at all. For one, my mother’s side of the family is white, and my father’s is black. So I think that it would be a little foolish to have any prejudices.

I could tell you some stories about things that have been said to me that you wouldn’t believe would have ever happened around here.

But, where would that get me?

I’d rather they stay between my friends and I. But, when I see ignorance rear its’ nasty head, I try to be the bigger man. I try to remember that not everyone shares the same principles, morals or decency. So, I go about my days selling my good-natured self to people and trying to represent my family in a positive manner.

I don’t think too hard about myself as being of color. I’m thankful that I am who I am, and know who I know. Besides, I could be living somewhere else, doing crack on a street corner and nursing a few bullet wounds.

Most recently, it’s been brought to my attention that a professor made the observation that a picture taken for the front of the Collegian seemed in poor taste, seeing as the month of February is black history month.

He said that it depicted the male as being menacing and fearful. That, for me, raised a lot of questions by people that I know who asked if I thought it was offensive or not. I perceive it differently. It portrayed a man making sexual advances towards a woman. That’s it.

If you read the story it was about the rights and wrongs of sexual activity at our age and different accounts illustrating each view.

The only thing that should have been questioned is the fact that the photo was a bit out of focus (sorry Mike).

As one black individual, and the model for this picture,I appreciate the concern, but in my experience, an issue is only an issue when you make it one.