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My racist experience with a college professor of engineering
The college experience-
I had an experience in college that really threw me off quite a bit, and it was with a college professor, who gave one of my term papers a grade of C. This was truly unfair in my opinion at the time and so I went to him, to discuss his reasoning to why he graded me so low.
The actual truth to the matter was, he told me that he gave me such a low grade because he felt that I had copied (Plagiarized) the works of the original author. So he then proceeded to tell me that there was no way that I could have written that paper, because I am a black person. I was literally blown away by his explanation to me, and quite frankly I almost shattered into tears, but I held my composure and regained myself.
After gathering myself I began to prepare mentally for an assault in worded form like no other to take a defensive stance. I also thought to myself at the same time, what would positively result from such a retaliation towards a college professor. So then I refrained from doing so I swallowed my pride, and I told him all about the research I had done to write the paper, as to defend myself against his wrongful grading, and done so as a much wiser approach to the accusation of plagiarism by him & ignoring the other part but I didn't forget.
Amazingly I believe from the manner and tone of my voice, my word choice and usage, it must have changed something in his train of thought. He simply began to look in disbelief at the fact that I was speaking in such an intelligent way back towards him as a response, and the fact that I had truly knew my stuff since I had intensively researched it like all students are taught to do.
Studying in the library was no stranger to me, I researched like crazy & with voracious intensity
Defining Moments on campus
This moment of my life was a defining moment, when I had stared racism dead in the face as I heard my professors lips say what he did. It literally blew me away (I was shocked), because he knew right then and there that he had made a grave mistake when he learned of my intellectual ability and overall scholarly aptitude just by mere speech.
Now at that time it was the year 1996, and racism or prejudice was actually against the law in the classroom, as well as in the workplace in the United States. The incident occurred at Manhattan College (Located in Riverdale, New york), and for the record never was brought to any officials there, we handled and resolved the potentially heated situation as grown men, and student to faculty member.
So in other words, he could have been in a pool of trouble by admitting to me the true reason behind his lowering of my true grade, if I had chose to turn him in, but I didn't because two wrongs don't make a right. (I learned that from my beautiful mother)
What had happened shortly after was, he immediately went to his grade books, and began looking for my info and student credentials. Then he proceeded to re-mark my grade entirely for that powerful term paper I had written, and he handed me back my term paper with an A++ written on it,
He told me that it was by far the best paper he has ever read by that of any college student, and he apologized to me in such a way that I had no other alternative but to forgive him.
He then complimented me on writing such a fine detailed and well written term paper, and soon walked with me out of his office. This was the first day I had ever come to terms with the indifference, and the unfairness that had caused me to believe that our race issues could never be cured, between black people and white people. Something changed for us two on that day, he and I had matured somehow in a different way, when he looked me in the eye and I felt that he knew I was an intelligent person, and the lord knows I truly deserved to be treated right just like any good student should for a change.
As I was leaving his office that day, a smile that I held inside when he was speaking to me, had simply lit up my cheek from ear to ear, because at the very moment real justice was served & without a fight and in some sort of weird way victory became ours, that means us both. We both learned something on that day besides myself just feeling great about the grade change, and how it all turned out.
He learned that a persons race, national origin or color holds no bearings on a persons intelligence, and also the fact of my remaining humble despite the potential feelings of animosity or quarreling towards one another, if I had in fact decided to retaliate negatively with ignorance or worse. All of this was the turning point in our dilemma, of sorts and had played a huge role is such a victory for us both.
Hear it from those who truly feel the indifference many of us suffer
What I learned-
I learned a great deal that day, that its intelligence, a more positive attitude in talking to people, as well as having a stronger grip or active usage of the English language that will help a person gain much more respect when it comes to issues of involving race or that of the color of ones skin, because how else could I have over turned his decision. Ironically though, I had also learned a whole lot from reading the Narrative life of Frederick Douglass (By using his self taught education he freed himself from slavery) in English class, and not even a few months prior to the racial incident with the professor. I learned that to resolve such issues between people of differing backgrounds takes mind power, love of self, as well as utmost forgiveness when its all said and done.
The professor was actually an ethics professor of Engineering of all things, and so maybe that's why he was so judgmental on me, but that still didn't give him the right to pull the race card though. This difficult life experience actually happened during the first semester of my junior year of civil engineering.
Life is definitely tough even without racism in its midst, but when people learn to unite from all races, classes, and creeds, the entire experience of this beautiful utopia known as planet earth, tends to become a much more pleasant and enjoyable one indeed.
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