Being Asian and American at the University of Richmond

by Jenifer Yi

Jenifer Yi is a sophomore from Santa Clarita, California majoring in Biochemistry with a concentration in Neuroscience and a minor in Healthcare Studies. She has been involved with the Race & Racism Project since 2018 and hopes to diversify the conversation and inclusion of all students of color at the University of Richmond. Through her contributions to the project, she wants to push for campus-wide racial awareness. In the future, she hopes to pursue a career in medicine while continuing to advocate and raise awareness for healthcare access for minorities.

It took eighteen years before I stepped foot as far east as Richmond, Virginia – the farthest I’ve been out on the East Coast.  A little naïve but brimming with excitement for the unknown, I did not realize back then that I would struggle with my cultural identity and sense of belonging for the first time in my life. Growing up in Las Vegas, Nevada for fourteen years then moving to a decently-sized suburb forty minutes outside Los Angeles, California for my high school years, I never noticed or took mind to the fact that I grew up and associated primarily with other Asian Americans. I befriended anyone who wanted to befriend me, but I never felt the oppressive pressure to prove to my non-Asian peers that I too, was born in the United States, and identified as an American despite having parents that immigrated from South Korea.

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Passive No Longer: Grappling With the University of Richmond’s History of Activism and Complacency

by Nathan Burns

Nathan Burns is a junior from Newtown, Pennsylvania double-majoring in French and Leadership Studies and minoring in English. This summer of 2019 marks Nathan’s first time working with the Race & Racism Project. On campus, Nathan is also a writing consultant and a member of the dining services student advisory committee.

When I was applying to college, my knowledge of the University of Richmond was limited to the selfishly narrow perspective of how the university would impact my immediate future. However, as an unintended consequence of this streamlined attention to what would be best for myself, I partially overlooked the university and the city of Richmond’s defining historical characteristics. For example, I was aware during my application process that Richmond was once the capital of the confederacy, and far more Southern than anywhere I had lived for an extended period of time. However, this fact, along with any nervousness I had surrounding it, often went unvoiced during my application process. Additionally, when drafting my application to the University of Richmond, I knew close to nothing about the university’s history, let alone its complete history. I knew only the aforementioned characteristics that I believed could potentially undermine my overall well-being during my four years on campus. Little did I realize that by pivoting away from how I viewed the university as only impacting my future, I would eventually become increasingly concerned with how the university’s past impacted—and still impacts—all of its students, faculty and staff.

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