Code Switch

Students discuss what it feels like to be a person of color at a predominantly white institution.


 

Confusing. Chameleon. Survivor. Intricate. Proud. When asked to describe in just one word what it's like to be a person of color at a predominantly white institution, these were the words chosen by the panelists at the Black and Brown @ Pomfret panel discussion, which was livestreamed from Hard Auditorium on Saturday, November 14, 2020.

The discussion was moderated by Amon Williams '21, who was instrumental in organizing the event. "The purpose of the event was to give insight into the challenges people of color face — the things you may not notice, but we notice every day," says Amon. Other panelists included Michaela Nsubuga '21, Tay Guirantes '21, Eddy Akpan '21, and Laisha Escalante '23

"A lot of people have preconceived notions about what it means to be a person of color," says Michaela. "I know not everyone has the best perception of people like me, so I will intentionally code-switch and portray myself in a way that isn't problematic or doesn't seem threatening so that I don't have to be put in uncomfortable situations."

When asked what Pomfret can do to help people of color feel more connected and less on edge, the panel response was simple: educate our community. "We all come from different countries and different places where there are different norms," says Michaela. "As a community, we need to come up with a set of norms for ourselves."

Though Pomfret still has work to do, Amon acknowledged that the School is on the right path. "I know for a fact that the School is going in a direction toward becoming more diverse. But you can't just snap your fingers and it changes; it takes time for these things to happen. But it's going in the right direction."


 

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During a recent panel discussion, students discussed what it feels like to be a person of color at a predominantly white institution.