Bitter-Sweet Betrayal

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
I spent my entire life in denial that racism even existed. As a graduate student in a doctorate psychology program, I am just now opening myself up to this whole world and with it has come a lot of pain, fear, and anxiety. In this essay, I speak about the challenges I have experienced in my first diversity class.

Submitted: January 30, 2019

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Submitted: January 30, 2019

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Bittersweet Betrayal

During class, we had the opportunity to reflect on a discussion we had last week. I began to reflect on the beautiful conversation I had with my classmate. Many wonderful thoughts, ideas, and realizations came to my mind. However, I began to search for something from that conversation that I felt comfortable disclosing with the entire class. I felt very good about what I shared because I felt it was both meaningful and vulnerable. I also became aware of how less anxious I was feeling in the group discussion. I wondered to myself, “Maybe it’s ok to relax and stop waiting for the floor to fall from beneath me.” So, I eased up, positioned my body in a relaxed posture and got ready to enjoy a fruitful conversation. Then, immediately my White classmate with whom I had a delicate conversation about very personal things raised his hand. In what felt like a nanosecond, my body became extremely tense and aroused. I was filled with anxiety and fear that he would betray my trust. Sure enough, instead of sharing his own vulnerable experience, he took it upon himself to share a story of mine that was not for him to share. I marveled at how effortlessly my story rolled off his tongue in contrast to how those same words chokingly fumbled out of my mouth due to the pain, shame, and embarrassment associated with them. The words that I am using to convey this experience do not compare to the depth of emotion that I am feeling inside.

While I completely understand and respect the professor’s logic, I am also very aware of the immense anger that I feel as I am being told that my pain will not be acknowledged via narrative feedback because she will withhold comments until th end of the semester when we write our big paper. I am also aware of the resentment I feel that our class textbook says, “Never force a person of color into a conversation about race,” but I am forced to take a required diversity class that focused almost exclusively on race although there are many forms of diversity. On top of that, I am not only required to write about my feelings about race but I have to sit in the discomfort of knowing that my feelings will never be formally addressed during the process. That is scary. Being encouraged to share vulnerable information in reflections without any feedback feels like a micro expression of what people of color feel on a macro level in society. We are presented with the many reasons why our feelings will not be acknowledged or spoken to. We are told that our feelings will be acknowledged at a later time. One day there will be time and space, but not today.I want to clarify that my anger is rooted in love and not hate. I have carefully considered every word I have written. I do not believe that it is the professor’s intention to belittle or disregard the importance of showing intentional acknowledgement of the painful emotions and experiences of disadvantaged members of the class who are crying out to be heard and validated. However, I do feel that way. I often feel like I am in a diversity class tailored to White people, a course that was not created with people of color’s experience in mind. On the other hand, I want to be clear that in spite of it all, I will not stop showing up, I will continue to be vulnerable, and I will always seek ways to support and encourage my fellow classmates along this journey we all are taking. I am not the victim of this story. I am the hero of my story who has taken many powerful blows, and to this day take painful stabs to the chest, but I refuse to give in. I will fight for diversity and I will fight to always be a safe space where my feelings and emotions can be seen by me, even if no one else acknowledges them at the moment. More importantly, I need to arrive to a place where only me seeing and acknowledging my pain is enough. Otherwise, I will always be dependent on the validation and support of others to be ok in my skin. 


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