Being a Latina woman, when attending classes I felt, by the looks I received, that white and Asian people thought I got accepted into UCLA because of Affirmative Action; hence, I never felt welcomed. In 1997, when Affirmative Action was abolished in California I concluded that what I felt was true. I also attended a Sociology of Education course where I participated in a heated discussion about Affirmative Action in which I realized that white people did not even know what the term meant.
At the time of my incident my desire for equality was great. It seemed to me that if I fought hard enough and protested for our rights, racism would somehow end. I thought that if we all got together and made people realize the injustice that would happen if they took Affirmative Action away we could change people’s minds. The day of the protest it was raining in the early morning. In the middle of the day people began to rally in the Bruin Walk at campus. As I entered the bus on one side of the university to get to the other side, a young white man approached my husband and me and totally unleashed on us his racial anger against Mexicans. He said,
“Go back to your land you wetbacks! You don’t belong here! You are taking up my tax dollars! Get out of here and leave room for people who deserve to come to UCLA! Go back to Mexico!”
I was so amazed at what had just taken place that I was stunned and could not say a word.
I reached the site of the rally and I could hear people chanting and see signs that read “vote no 209” moving up and down across the crowd. When what had just happened to me finally sunk in, I joined in the rally and I fought so hard, harder than I had ever fought before. We had to win, for why would something that was so fair be taken away. I was determined not to let that young white man have the last word; he was not going to win.
Today, after years of dealing with racism and after participating in different protests, my desire for equality seems more like an unattainable dream. I believe the equality I long for will never happen and racism will exist forever. Participating in protests made me feel as if I was doing something good for me and my people, but when what I was fighting against so hard happened anyway, I felt let down by society. I imagined what that young man really was saying,
“I am so thrilled that proposition 209 passed and Affirmative Action was finally abolished. Finally all those Mexicans can only get in to UCLA under the same conditions I did, if they are smart. It was so aggravating to me to know that all those Mexicans got in just because they are a minority.”
After all this happened I was so angry at all white people. In a way, I was racist myself. I then realized many things. I realized my anger would not get me anywhere and I had to change my ways of thinking. After taking more classes on racism I came to see that since our society is built on racism and the people in power have been white men for generations, information about programs to help minorities is lacking to the white community because it does not affect them. I came to realize that the white community lacks understanding of what being underprivileged means and programs such as Affirmative Action which they believe is unfair. After talking to different white people I came to realize that they believe that Affirmative Action is a program to let minorities in to schools just because of the color of their skin. I realized that white people did not comprehend that just because of the color of their skin their high schools provided them with everything they needed to be accepted into good colleges, unlike minorities. I realized that white people were too busy thinking that Affirmative Action was unfair and never stopped to think that because of the color of their skin they would always unfairly be privileged over everybody else.
In conclusion, today I can perceive a cycle in which the views that white people share get passed down from generation to generation, therefore, racism continues. I can also understand that if I were a privileged white person, I would probably be the same way, because racism would not affect me and why would I want to change something that is good for me.
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