I’m not sure if I attract racism or if it’s because I’m constantly thrown with people from many different racial, ethnic and ideological backgrounds (which is an amazing thing regardless of the few negative instances), but it seems as though I have to deal with racist comments on a regular basis.

At first, I would get super angry and argue endlessly with whoever made the ignorant comment. Now, I just internalize my anger, say a few concise words, look the other way and ignore the person’s existence until one of us leaves whatever place we’re in. I’ll sometimes go home and wonder if I had ever thought I’d hear something so preposterous or if anyone will even believe me when I tell them what happened — but here’s the story, and you can see for yourself how unbelievable it all was.

The story begins with me skipping class (mistake No. 1) and instead choosing to hang out with one of my friends and her crew. We were a pretty diverse group, an Egyptian (myself), a Pakistani (my friend) and a few of her Hispanic friends. Oh, and a white guy no one really knew but was somehow a part of the crowd. And no, it wasn’t me or any of my brown friends who made the racist comments. It was the lone white guy. Let’s call him Chad. Chad felt safe enough to talk trash about the people in his company.

The conversation first started with us going around in a circle and sharing what we’re scared of the most. Then came Chad’s turn, and his exacts words were, “I’m not afraid of anything, I’m a white man.” At first. I thought Chad was thoughtful and intelligent enough to jokingly recognize his white male privilege. I was wrong. He followed his statement with “Oh, but I’m afraid of black people because they’re crazy. Have you seen all those Black Lives Matter movements? They want to kill all white people.”

He then went on to declare his unwarranted support for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, saying that he’s the only candidate who can fix America and our broken economy and keep our country safe from illegal immigrants and terrorists.

I guess he didn’t know what he was getting himself into, because although my friends and I didn’t physically beat up this ignorant fellow, we still scarred him for life with all our calmly stated facts accompanied by probably the dirtiest looks you’ve ever seen.

The lesson from all this? If Chad felt he could make openly racist comments about pretty much every race of people he was sitting with, then white supremacy surely does exists and it does give some people the courage to say atrocious things. White privilege isn’t just about who goes to college — it’s about who feels more protected while committing crimes and being unbelievably racist while knowing society will end up protecting them, if not de jure then de facto.

There are some people who think racism is a thing of the past or just a hashtag on Twitter. Some people think it’s a Beyoncé performance at the Super Bowl or a sly comment or two at the Oscars. As a person of color, racism is very real and it exists all around me, whether it be on campus, around town, in our media or globally. It’s never funny, never a thing of the past and definitely never acceptable. I have learned to somewhat control my anger in situations like these, but it never fails to disappoint me that some people still have such backward thinking. It concerns me that I so frequently have to deal with racism that keeping calm has become second nature. This shouldn’t be the case. I shouldn’t have to learn how not to be angry at racism. Others just need to learn how to be decent human beings.

Nahla Aboutabl is a senior international affairs major. Contact Nahla at aboutanm@dukes.jmu.edu.


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I'm Nahla Aboutabl, an international affairs major as well as a passionate commentator on all things political and social. I'm that angry tweeter you'll probably unfollow, so I take to more than one platform to express my opinions.