The journey of a coloured student

People say, “Jennany…. Is that like Jen-ay? Jenny? Janani?” So I say, “Just call me Jenn.”

“Are you Indian?” “Do like curry?” “Do you already have a marriage proposal?” “Is that like against your religion?” Let me stop you right there.

My family comes from Sri Lanka. Half of the people I’ve spoken to in university have no idea where that is, and the other half think it’s a part of India. I come from Scarborough, so coming to Laurier Brantford was never the plan. I was planning on going to York or Ryerson with the rest of my friends, but last minute I decided it was time to start fresh and accepted the offer I received at Laurier.

I knew there would be a definite change coming to Brantford, and by that I mean accepting the fact that it is a city populated with caucasians and barely any brown people. I was never really the odd one out in my high school and elementary years. I had one previous experience with prejudice when I was in preschool. A little boy threw sand on me and told me it matched my skin tone. Despite that I was never really one to be victimized for my skin tone, although there were definitely several stereotypes.

When I first spoke to people here I could see the expressions on their face. “Let’s see how bad her accent is going to be,” or “I wonder if she says my name weird”. However, I think it’s fair to say I proved those ones wrong by having no accent. At times I don’t necessarily pronounce certain words like others do. Despite that it wasn’t ever an issue.

In all honesty, Toronto is a very multicultural city and I was really nervous coming to Brantford but this whole city has been so accepting. Of course, there are those odd few individuals I cross paths with that don’t respect me, but that happens everywhere you go regardless of the colour of your skin.

A colored person’s experience in university can be quite different compared to a non-coloured student. There are plenty of microaggressions that a coloured student can experience without anyone noticing. It is important for all students to respect each other regardless of their skin colour. Yes, we all have our differences but that is what makes us unique. Celebrating each other’s differences is something we should continue to do on and outside of campus.

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