Too often, when media outlets cover communities of color, the result is a contextless pornography of Black and Brown pain, filtered through a vaselined camera lens of white reportage. Simultaneously, there is also very little attempt by the media to hold white institutions accountable, and even less for specific actors within those strongholds of white supremacy. The result is a perception of racism without racists.
This is unacceptable.
Weave News is seeking submissions on the experiences of students of color at Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs). The series, Surviving PWIs for POC, will publish a variety of perspectives on the day-to-day experiences of people of color, both inside and outside the classroom.
The goal of this series is not to put POC pain on display for a white audience, nor to demand that people of color offer solutions to the uncomfortable situations in which white institutions have placed them. The goal of this series is to document the experiences of Black and Brown undergrads as they analyze the institutions around them.
A day at a Predominantly White Institution (PWI) for a person of color may sometimes feel like an obstacle course, like bootcamp, or like The Biggest Loser, with the end goal being making it across that stage four years later. For the most part, the voices of POC are only heard when they are forced to act like the token spokesperson for their entire race or culture.
This series seeks to give POC an outlet where they can share their stories about going to a PWI, interactions they have had, situations that have led to deeper growth and understanding of themselves or situations that have deeply shaken their identity. Here we would like to share the stories of POC who have braced the hallways of PWIs and/ or those who are still doing the time in order to get that degree.
For an example of what we’re looking for, please read Series Editor Shanice Arlow’s “Aiding and Abetting Whiteness.”
We’re open to submissions about anything, but if you’d like, here are some possible topics:
How has your identity been informed by going to a predominantly white institution?
What are the implications of being POC in and outside of the classroom?
What are the unspoken rules of white institutions that you’re expected to know?
Are you, as some critics allege, expected to perform your trauma for white audiences?
Have you been able to find a mentor? Do you feel shut out of networking opportunities?
Universities are, ostensibly, repositories of knowledge. In what situations do you feel like your particular knowledge is valued? In what situations is it not valued?
What’s it like to be served a predominantly European menu?
How do the structures of PWIs shape the interactions between POC who are from the United States and those who are international students?
Do you miss out on extracurricular activities and internships because you have to earn money to attend school? How does the pressure to earn money to attend school affect your ability to participate in extracurricular activities, internships, and other opportunities?
In your experience, how do race and class intersect at PWIs?
Do you feel that your culture is adequately celebrated at your school?
As a student of color at a primarily white institution, are you expected to do unpaid labor? Counsel or mentor new students of color? Teach your white classmates about your experience? Coordinate events honoring your heritage?
Does your college offer mental health counselors of color? If not, do white counselors acknowledge the trauma of racism?
What does your social support system look like? What sorts of unofficial networks have you and your friends built to make your experiences worthwhile in PWIs?
If you are interested in writing a piece for this series, please fill out the form below and our one of our editors will contact you.