I’m a late year graduate student in a mid-ranked department. By far the most distressing experience as a young philosopher of color is not ever feeling comfortable calling out fellow students or professors on racist or classist comments for fear of being labeled the “angry minority student”. I’ve heard grad students and prominent philosophers say the following to either myself or to other students-
- “That’s so ghetto.”
- “What language do your parents speak? Is it one of those ching chang chong languages?” -Amazingly said by a prominent philosopher of language!
- “How old are you? You must be 15!” Said to a female Asian student.
- “Have you heard of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy?” -Said by a professor, assuming I’m incompetent.
- “Do you know what Gmail is?” -Same professor, assuming I’m incompetent.
- “Don’t move to that area, it’s dangerous.” -Referring to an area with a large minority population.
It’s suffocating to be in an environment where you feel powerless to assert your true feelings, beliefs and experiences out of fear of alienating too many people. I only hope that after tenure I won’t have to care so much about being “nice” “polite” and “respectable” to have the slightest possibility of securing employment in the profession.