"In high school, I was in the honors classes and AP with predominantly white peers. They would say things like ‘You’re very articulate when you speak’ or  ‘You don’t have a hood accent.’

In Berkeley, the first day in my English class, people are asking me what sport I play not even assuming that I am here because of my academics.  It’s almost like I can’t have my own identity as a Black scholar. I have to be a Black athlete to study here at Berkeley, or I have to talk ‘hood’ in order for me to Black.”

-Isaiah D.

"One of the main issues I have with these types of statements is that they reduce the Black race to one type of person to further perpetuate negative stereotypes or stereotypes in general. How are Black people supposed to be or act? When people tell me I don’t act Black, they say it as if I should feel privileged. As if I should take it as a compliment, which illustrates how we live in a society where being black is synonymous with being inferior. These statements are an indication that we do not live in a post-racial society. Racial hierarchy is very much prevalent. There’s a book by Andrew Barlow in which he describes how without privilege, race has no salience. This could not be more accurate because individuals use racial microaggressions to subjugate people of color. 

Although I have been confronted with misconceptions about my race such as these for a large part of my life, I am still shocked when placed in such a situation. It can be a battle to force yourself to respond in a non-defensive manner and instead respond in a manner that educates the individual on how their comment was problematic. 

Coming to Berkeley has enabled me to increase the pride that I have for my race. I am Black and proud and I think Black is beautiful. No stereotype or misconception will ever change that.”
-Jackie I. 
Second year, Social Welfare major

"When people say those types of things, it disregards and undervalues all the hard work that you do because they just assume you don’t even have to work hard. When in reality, behind closed door you have to study and push yourself to do well just like everybody else.

 My ethnicity does not define my success. “

-Ricco I.

First year, intended Molecular Environmental Biology & Public Health double major

"A lot of people think that way, and I think it’s something we need to change.  I’ve struggled as much as other people. I’ve worked just as hard as the majority of students here.

-Angelica N.

First year, intended Business Administration and Media Studies double major

"I get this feeling that it is hard for them to believe that a Latino would be majoring in Civil Engineering. I guess they have certain assumptions of what I’m supposed to be doing based on the way I look.

In class whenever we have to do a work project I’m one of the last people left out. I have to go out of my way to try and find a group. I can’t help but feel that it’s because of my race and that they question my abilities before getting to know me as a student. So I have to constantly prove myself .”

-Emmanuel Flores

4th year, Civil Engineering major

"My experiences with microaggressions started before I ever submitted my intent to register to UC Berkeley. In high school, I received a lot of questions on to how I got into Cal. As if my academic record did not measure up to my peers (It did). I realized early on here at Cal, that these situations would continue. It could stem from anything like my GSI asking me if I speak Ebonics and reaching out to give me some ‘dap’ because I clearly don’t shake hands. What seemed like a joke, put into my mind.

I can only advance the communities I represent, if I speak up and speak out. The paradox of my identity has been a journey and despite UC Berkeley’s shortcomings, I have found a place to be myself and address every community and identity that I represent.”

-Isis D.

"It was my first year and I was in my chemistry lab and I wasn’t understanding some of the concepts we were going over.  I asked a girl sitting next to me for help and I didn’t think it was a big deal. I was struggling and I kept asking her questions since I had helped her with some other topics that we had learned before. Out of nowhere she asked me where my parents were from, and I told her they were from Mexico. She said ‘Well that explains a lot.’ At that point I didn’t necessarily know what she meant by that, but I ended up assuming that she was relating my heritage and where my parents come from to the fact that I wasn’t understanding the material we were learning in class. It was very disrespectful in her part and it made me feel very self-conscious."

-Daniela B.

American Studies major

"I’m usually looked at differently because I’m into art and my music while being intellectually sound. I heard it from a GSI my freshman year implying that there is a way that ‘the rest of them are.’  It’s inherently racist because of the implications. I definitely don’t feel part of the greater Berkeley community. I struggle claiming to be a bear . When people mention bear I usually say I’m a black bear, but my blackness and the bear don’t really intersect properly.

Even when I try to ignore microaggressions, they usually pop up.  They happen all the time.” 

-Myles S.

Second year, Art Practice and African American Studies double major

"At a family reunion a couple years ago after I first was accepted into Berkeley my mom was really proud, and she told everyone how proud she was of me, my grades, and how I graduated with so many honors.  Then one my relatives said ‘Oh you’re not like one of those Latinas.’ I was stunned thinking what she meant by it. I looked at her and I didn’t know what to do at that point so I chuckled. I felt really upset afterwards because I didn’t say anything. She was using me as an example and putting down our community."

-Michelle D.

Second year, Ethnic  Studies and Peace & Conflict  Studies double major

"It’s important to acknowledge that there is diversity and we need to stand in solidarity with one another."

-Zina O.

Second year, Public Health major

"This professor tried to profile my family. Like ‘Oh you’re a first generation college student […] So your brother must be like this. Is your brother in a gang?’ In my head I was thinking ‘Why are you trying to profile my family based on your academic work?’ He was trying to figure me out like I’m representative of what his research found. 

I’m on one of the pictures posted around campus and I’m being representative of the ‘diversity’ on campus and to say that I’m a part of the greater campus community when in reality I don’t even feel like that. It doesn’t acknowledge the little support the university has given me. It doesn’t represent the experience being here. It doesn’t do justice for the times when I’m writing a paper about the community that I come from but I’m writing it the way they want me to write it. I have to adhere to their policies and what they want me to write. I’ll be writing a paper on undocumented immigrants and I have to use the terms that they want me to use and those terms may not representative of my community. Or I’m using the methods or theories that aren’t true when I’ve seen them in practice applied to my community. There’s certain academic work that talks about my community and it doesn’t represent my community and it tries to generalize it.”
-Marissa C. 
Fourth year, Sociology major