So, Mount Holyoke College has, until recently, set aside funds for what we call the ALANA students. ALANA = Asian Latina African and Native American. It's a form of affirmative action, but I believe it is more than that. Affirmative action is, as defined by good ole dictionary.com, "A policy or a program that seeks to redress past discrimination through active measures to ensure equal opportunity, as in education and employment."However, while that may get us ALANA students INTO college [as, I, too, have unwittingly benefited from being a student "of color"]-- we don't realize that being branded as an ALANA student sets us apart in the eyes of the college and our peers, and thus makes the road to equality a little hard to follow.
Recently, some ALANA alumnae from Mount Holyoke contacted all "alumna of color" in an attempt to get a feel for whether or not there would be support if they established an ALANA alumnae group. They had us fill out a survey, asking whether we'd be for or against the establishment of such a group. Below is my answer for the why or why not section:
"I do not believe in separating ourselves by the color of our skin. I know that ALANA is a way that people of "minority" races to bond, find common ground, seek support, etc. However, despite my feelings that one should always remember your cultural background, how often do we, as "ALANA" members wish that we weren't distinguished by our ethnicities, but by who we are? Doesn't establishing an ALANA group then automatically set us apart and readily supply a 'group' name for those who would be looking to single us out in the first place? How many of us would rather not be seen as "that Asian/African/Latina/Native American chick", but seen as [insert your name here]?"