Lisa Okafor is a student at San Jose State. The views reflected in this letter to the editor do not necessarily reflect those of Mustang News’ editorial coverage. This letter has been edited for clarity.
After reading the article “It’s been one year since the blackface incident. Where is Cal Poly’s campus climate now?” I was disappointed, but not surprised.
I’m actually a student at San Jose State and visited Cal Poly San Luis Obispo two months ago with the Christians on Campus club on my campus. While in San Luis Obispo, I noticed shocking differences in your campus culture versus ours here at SJSU.
SJSU is a very diverse campus that is filled with people of color from all over the world, and the people here are mostly liberal and accepting of minorities. In stark contrast, when we visited San Luis Obispo, I couldn’t help but notice how un-diverse the school is; as a black woman, I felt very self-conscious and out of place as I noticed that not one person that I came across on campus looked like me.
While I can understand the lack of diversity in San Luis Obispo and accept it, I cannot accept the lack of cultural awareness. It’s 2019 and there is no excuse for ignorance. I grew up in Santa Clarita, a predominantly white suburb in SoCal, and in my 18 years of living there I never felt as uncomfortable as I felt during the few hours that I spent in San Luis Obispo. Being on campus as a minority, I felt very unwelcomed as I noticed people watching my every move and staring at me as if I didn’t belong there. That is not okay. The campus community needs to make a conscious effort to be more friendly and welcoming to people of other cultures. This is crucial because in the real world you will have to work with people from different backgrounds and people who may not look like you, and you will need to treat them with respect.