By Emily Renteria

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The obvious cannot be dismissed: there is a significant cultural and racial disparity within our beloved St. John’s University and College of St. Benedict.

It is true that the arrival of the Class of 2021 has brought with them the largest diversity population the school has ever received. This grand accomplishment however, consists only of eight percent male and 16 percent female people of color (POC) of the school’s population.

As it was said by many presenters during this year’s orientation, “To some, this is the most racially diverse place people have been at.”

After these statements, I saw two things: nodding from white students in agreement and confused/appalled faces by  (some white but mostly) POC incoming students. Regardless of your reaction, this is our situation.

What matters now is our perspective—how will you treat others? To our white brothers and sisters: be careful with your gestures and attitudes. Reminder: some of us are not used to being the minority of a population, which is why (we might be defensive, and) anything, and everything you do will be under scrutiny.

We are all mature college students, but not everyone practices Minnesota’s usual passive-aggressiveness. Some people will confront you and call you out. Or, you might just leave us dumb-founded by your words and actions to which we will internalize it and keep building false generalizations about the white community.

Also, do not just  stare at us. We see you just as you see us, so acknowledge us. A smile would help.

Now, mi gente—African-American, African-Caribbean, Somali, Asian (yes, I mean Indians too), Native-Americans, Hispanics and everyone else in between—do not lose hope and please keep your cool. I am not saying to dismiss ignorance—discrimination or racism—but try your best not to take what is said and done too personal.

I understand that this is difficult not to do, but when things become too personal, we tend to act defensively. Do not let this happen, for the matter at hand transcends from education about cultures and acceptance to personal aggression. It is nolonger about the cause, but rather about the individual. Also, people to tune out those who (a) disagree with them and (b) insult them.

Do not impose another hindrance for yourself over the real issue at stake. We could do this. We could make this work. All I ask from my ever-so-supportive Bennies and Johnnies is to not look at each other as challenges, rather as an opportunity to learn about our differences.

The secret to tolerance and acceptance is knowledge. Share it.

This is the opinion of Emily Renteria, CSB first-year