When last year in France, I learned I was going to be a student attending Rhodes College, I really did not know what to expect of Rhodes College, Memphis and the United States. I had never been to the United States before so my views of America were pretty innocent. I did not have any particular expectations since I had no idea of the environment I was going to be living in. When I arrived at Rhodes College, I was completely astonished by the buildings, the surroundings and the environment! Rhodes seemed like a sort of dream world to me.
However after a few weeks I started realizing something that bothered me about Rhodes College…
I read before coming here that Memphis was a predominantly black city with a 63% black population, 32% white population and 2% Asian population. I was expecting Rhodes College to have much more black students because of its location in Memphis and the South of the United States. Realizing that Rhodes was a predominantly “white college” in a predominantly black city, I looked up the numbers concerning diversity among students at Rhodes: 80% white students, 6% black students and 4% Asian students. To compare these numbers with another university in Memphis, I looked up the University of Memphis and found that they reflected a little more the demography of Memphis: 56% white students, 38% black students and 3% Asian students.
Seeing that the numbers concerning Rhodes College were quite the opposite of the demography numbers in Memphis, the question is: even if segregation is forbidden by the law, can it still be an issue today? I do not have a straight answer to this question because it is so complex.
The other phenomenon I found disturbing was the people working on campus. If you look closely at the staff (food buildings, the house keeping team, campus safety…) it is noticeable they are for the most part black.
These two observations cannot be a simple coincidence; they are living proof that race problems are still an issue today. Rhodes College is just one out of many examples.
Knowing that the South of the United States was the birthplace of the civil rights movement and that this era was over, I thought that race problems were not an issue anymore… but apparently they are still here…
I do not want to offend anybody in this article; I just want to open a debate on race issues today and their repercussion in the daily life of Americans and in this case, your daily life.
Please post comments and question.