Overcoming midwest nice: microagressions at SDSU

ABDEL MO Columnist

Oh, the Midwest! With its beautiful prairies, corn fields, lakes and national parks, the Midwest is truly one of the most beautiful parts of the country.

My four years at SDSU have definitely been a great learning experience, and I’ve had the op-portunity to meet quite a few amazing people and embark on multiple adventures.

I grew up in Dubai, United Arab Emirates with more than 3 million people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Because of this I was used to people being rude. This little town in South Dakota seemed like a charming little oasis full of warm, friendly people.

This was before I understood what “Midwest nice” was. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love SDSU and the people have been kind and gracious, but as a foreign-er living in America’s heartland, I have come to recognize the subtle racism and rampant microaggressions that exist on our campus. 

Now, I want to make it clear that the purpose of this article is not to attack South Dakotans or Caucasians but to shed light on the struggle faced by many foreigners or minorities on our campus. I am also not an ultra-left wing liberal who is quick to cry racism. I fully understand most people at SDSU come from rural or small town backgrounds and haven’t been exposed to other cultures or races.

I feel the need to explain how international students and minorities at SDSU may feel. From subtle digs, like “Do you ride camels to school in Dubai?” or “Your English is so proper” to obvious-ly racist remarks and liberal use of the N-word on social media such as Yik Yak and Snapchat. It makes it extremely difficult for people of color to feel like they belong or they are a part of the SDSU community.

There have been times when I felt like my peers do not like me, because I am a person of color or I am foreign. South Dakotans are very friendly but hard to make friends with. Subtle things such as stares while walking around campus and even looks of disgust at parties or athletic events may not seem like a big deal, but they really affect the morale and quality of life for people at the receiving end of those actions.

My only agenda is to invite people to have a more open attitude toward minorities and foreigners. Talk to us, become friends with us—we are just like you. We have similar aspirations and ultimately we are here to receive an education and become useful members of society. But in the meantime let’s have fun together and learn from each other.

I want to applaud SDSU fac-ulty and staff for working hard to increase diversity on our campus and for creating resources to make sure everyone feels wel-come.

Lastly, I urge you all to keep your minds open and embrace the diversity here at SDSU.

Abdel Mo is an operations man-agement major at SDSU and can be reached at [email protected] jacks.sdstate.edu.