Racist Experiences on Campus

Leah Fergusen

"And she [the professor] said they needed to embrace slavery as their culture. And I questioned her and she just said, 'Oh, no, you just gotta embrace slavery. You know, slavery wasn't that bad.'"(5) - Leah Fergusen

Black Lives Matter National Day of Action, Eugene
Shaun Carter

"I never wanna give the impression that I want to cause fear or danger to other people cause’ I know that’s how people can see black people, especially at nighttime walking by themselves."(7) - Shaun Carter

A few narrators described their perceptions of the environment for students of color at Millersville as being in the middle. Dependent on national and international events, campus became increasingly hostile at times, especially when “higher-profile racial [cases circulated] the news.”(6) Conversely, a handful of students said they never experienced any racial opposition. However, it became apparent that even though these narrators perceived the campus as extremely welcoming, they were nonetheless eminently aware of the atmosphere in Lancaster Countywhich promoted stereotypes and division based on raceand how their peers may view or feel about them as a result. Shaun Carter told interviewers that while “[he] feels pretty safe, especially around the daytime,” he never wanted to give the impression that other people should fear him.(8) 

Nicha Smith’s understanding of Lancaster County expanded on this deep-seated, internal anxiety. Commuting to the university every morning, she acknowledged that she felt safe during the day as she travelled from class to class. Yet, aware that “[she is] black and in a majority white country, and state, and area . . . and she’s heard stories that they have the KKK around,” the persistent urge to remain cautious and vigilant of her surroundings stayed in her mind.(9)

1. Diavian Gunner, interview by Julia Pavlow, November 14th, 2017, transcript, Millersville University Archives and Special Collections, Millersville, PA

2. Evelyn Dais, interview by Basil Wright, March 26th, 2018, trnascript, Millersville University Archives and Special Collections, Millersville, PA

3. Taylor Muse, interview by Kial Maynard, April 5th, 2018, transcript, Millersville University Archives and Special Collections, Millersville, PA

4. Unnamed narrator, interview by Riley Sharp, April 7th, 2018, transcript, Millersville University Archives and Special Collections, Millersville, PA

5. Leah Fergusen, interview by Rebecca Rubino, December 6th, 2017, transcript, Millersville University Archives and Special Collections, Millersville, PA

6. Brittney Brown, interview by Jeremy Hull, May 9th, 2018, transcript, Millersville University Archives and Special Collections, Millersville, PA

7. Shaun Carter, interview by Emily Young and Lauren Davis, May 8th, 2018, transcript, Millersville University Archives and Special Collections, Millersville, PA

8. Carter, interview

9. Nicha Smith, interview by Meranda Pfamatter, April 30th, 2018, transcript, Millersville University Archives and Special Collections, Millersville, PA