I am a senior. I am a sociology major. I am from Chicago. I am Latino. I am a second-generation citizen. I am a first-generation college student. I am here at Davidson. I am Fabian Lara, and I am tired.
It is that time of the semester when work is piling up, and finals are looming. Papers need to be written, projects need to be in full swing, and survival mode has been activated. However, the last ten days have been exceptionally exhausting. The uproar on campuses around my country caught my attention at various points throughout last week. I was in the library at 1:00 a.m. last Wednesday morning (yeah it was one of those nights) when a friend informed me of the violent threats towards black students on Mizzou’s campus. It was a tipping point. In that moment, every part of my body was filled with fear. I was filled with anger. I was filled with sadness and pain. For the next seven hours, into the early morning, all I could think about was why this had happened. The community, including faculty, dared to oppose a system and a leader that they felt was letting them down, and as a result, their well-being and their lives were threatened.
But why am I exhausted? Why should I bother stressing over another campus? Why should I care about someone else’s complaint, someone who I most likely will never meet? I am exhausted of hearing about these issues at other places and then realizing that I am experiencing the same problems here as a student at Davidson. I am fatigued from long conversations about race and how to deal with it on campus. I am annoyed by people telling me to just leave campus if I don’t feel comfortable here. I am tired of people saying I have enough space and resources on campus as a student of color when in fact I constantly am limited in my options. I am insulted by those who do their best to make me feel unwelcomed. This scenario is not new to me, it is not new to my friends, and it is definitely not new to those who tell us to shut up, get over it, and face reality.
What some fail to realize is that I am fully aware of my reality. In fact, it is this very reality that is exhausting for students of color.
Not only are we students, but we are students of color who have to deal with the inevitable realities of being non-white. We have a choice every time a cop kills another black person, or a threat is made on a campus, or there is another attack on a person’s humanity. We have the choice to pay attention to it, and address the issues that are affecting our communities back home and at school. We also have the choice to ignore what happens and pretend that it does not matter to us. We can save our time and energy for being students, athletes, and active members of other parts of campus life. Either direction we choose, the heavy weight of the consequences drowns us. To engage means to exert copious amounts of energy and emotion in solidarity and support of those around us. To ignore means to feel the guilt while watching our people hurt without support with full awareness that the next generation of students will inevitably feel the same pain because of our negligence.
Some may ask what pain? What sadness? How can living at Davidson be hurting you? The pain comes from everything I see on campus. The pain comes from loneliness and isolation. I walk into most classrooms and I am the only Latino in the room. I look through my Webtree, and there are minimal Latino professors to teach me anything let alone the subjects I want to learn about. I walk around and I see more Latino men and women working in service jobs than anywhere else on campus. As a student and aspiring professional, what I see everyday is the reality I will soon be a part of. I will soon be part of a world where people like me, and people like my black friends, lack power, autonomy, and even safety in every industry we might desire to work in. I will likely be a token racial minority once again after May 15, 2016 is long gone. The reality I know as the fatigue that has buried me for the last three years and three months at Davidson has a sequel right around the corner. The reality I know is that I will feel the fatigue from the choices of addressing issues or watching them pass by. The reality I know is that the fatigue never ends. This is why it matters. This is why I care. These are the battles I must choose to pick daily. This is why I am tired.
Fabian Lara `16 is a Sociology major from Chicago, Illinois. Contact him at email@example.com