Junior High School Racism: Your Blackness Intimidated Me!

premed Jul 11, 2020


#BlackLivesMatter This week I'm doing a series of videos to highlight systemic racism in education and the unique obstacles and difficulties that students of color, particularly black students face in their academic journey.

I hope that these lessons put a face to educational discrimination and paint a picture of why there is such little diversity in higher education and why improving diversity in college and medical school has been such a challenge.

If you are a student of color, just know that you are not alone! We see you and understand. Keep pushing and keep trying to dominate!


Full Episode Transcript

Guys, live-action, Dr. Andre Pinesett here. And let's start here by calling it what it is: Your blackness intimidates me. I'm intimidated by your blackness, the color of your skin. Intimidates me. Let's start there and get into it guys, but stop making excuses. Stop whining. Stop right. Get at it. No excuses just dominate. All right guys.
Dr. Andre Pinesett, The Study Doc. As always, I'm trying to help uplift students, empower power students, help you guys be more productive, help you guys be more positive, get ahead, and reach your goals. And right now, what I'm here to tell you guys is that black skin is intimidating in educational environments. And what are we doing all through this week?
I told you guys I'm going to go live all this week. I set out to me to live with other black physicians, but I thought this would just be me next week. We're going to start once a week. My students had to be better once a week, starting next week. I start bringing on black people in higher education. I have to come on, talk to you guys, but I thought this week, every single day, this week, I'd bring you guys an incident. A story from my trajectory, from my path to going being a black male in higher education, going to Stanford medical school, becoming a physician, being a physician attending at university of North San Diego and what that road was like and pointing out, because I think people were having difficulty understanding why we shout black lives matter so hard and why it's so disrespectful.
People say all lives matter, or they denigrate the struggle and the process that people have to go through in America to succeed, to stay alive, let alone attain education. And so today we're going to start with junior high. And for many of you guys, junior high is a formidable time in your life, right? You're a young person coming into your adolescents in puberty, trying to figure out what your identity is, who you're going to be, right. And where you fit in the world. And for me, my junior high experience was marred by an experience where my history teacher told me that my black skin intimidated him.
My blackness intimidated him. The sheer looking at my face was intimidating to him. And the way it went was like this guy's I was in seventh grade and I'm making history in seventh grade, right. Young person, right. Just trying to get my education, right. Go to junior high, right. Dealing with girls, all this kind of stuff. And I'm there in this history class. And I noticed that the history teacher kept grading me. I felt unfairly on my papers, on my assignments throughout the year as this going on, I keep I'm like, okay, you know, it's not really the deal. This is what it is. Like, maybe I'm just missing the boat. Right. So I keep going, keep going and get on. And then about halfway through the first semester, I get notified that I'm being suspended from school. I'm like, Oh, that's weird. I'm being suspended from school. And so I get this notice. I show my parents like, what do you mean suspended for? I don't know. So we go to the principal's office and we were the principal and say, 'Hey, you've been suspended'. What's going on? And the principal says, well, he's been intimidating. One of our teachers and my parents look at me and I'm like, I have no idea. Like, and they're like, he's never been in trouble. What do you mean? He's intimidating one of your teachers, what do you mean? Like, Oh, one of our teachers feels threatened by him. And apparently, what do you mean threatened by him? What are you saying? And the principal goes, well, you know what? I don't have all the details. Let me talk to the teacher and let me call you back and let you know. And my parents of course are like, wait a minute. How can you suspend a student without having all the details? Right? And so we leave the office, we get a callback and we have a parent-teacher principal conference and we don't know what's going on. We get there. And it's my history teacher and my history teacher standing there behind the principal. The principal says yes, uh, in talking to insert teacher's name, um, he finds that Andre is very intimidating and is attempting to threaten him and intimidate him during class. And my parents go, what do you mean? How was he intimidating you? And the principal says he's exhibited behavior that is threatening. And again, my parents ask, well, how is he threatening? How was he intimidating? And the teachers told me steps forward and says, you know what? Every single time I look over at Andre, he's looking at me and the way he's looking at me, it's like, he's trying to intimidate me. I, I said, wait, does he say anything to you? No, he doesn't say anything to me, but he's looking at me and it's threatening to me. It makes me feel uncomfortable. I don't want to have him in my class. And as we go on in this conversation, we're having a conversation, right? They're trying to explain what they mean. And my dad is sitting back and my dad's a big guy. Right. And he's sitting back and he goes, let me ask you a question is a look he's given you this look And a history teacher goes, that's the exact looks I'm talking about. And he goes, this is just my face. What you're really saying is that my son's blackness intimidates. You And my parents sent me out the room. And they had a very frank discussion with the history teacher that resulted in a public apology that resulted in me being moved to a different class.
But despite all that guys, right, We talk about systemic racism. And for a lot of people, it's not precise. It's not exact, right. People say, well, if they didn't call you the N-word, they're not being racist, you're not being discriminated against there. Aren't real obstacles to students of color succeeding in higher education. And with this week, what I'm hoping to do is shed a light and let you guys understand that when we talk about systemic racism when we talk about the obstacles that are unique to students of color, they're real. And when you guys sit here and I hear it all the time in medical school admissions, where people say, Oh, if you're a student of color, Oh, it's just easier for you to get in. And people don't recognize that medical schools value, distance traveled and the distance that black man, a black woman, a student of color, Latino, the journey for those students of color to get to medical school is much further than the same journey for nonminority students and medical schools recognize us in some small way and recognize that this is a travel and recognize that it's an advantage in being a student of color and what you have to face. And for me guys, when this whole story happened, like when this all went down in junior high, I was kinda mad about it, but really what it made me, it made me feel uncomfortable. It made me feel like being myself and made me feel like my, my sheer presence as a black male in an academic environment, I didn't fit.
And we talk about the fact that so many students of color experience imposter syndrome, and I was talking today, what's up with the surgeon, right? Cause I'm gonna ask, he's always, I'll talk with the surgeon today. And the surgeon happens to be Venezuelan in origin. And she was talking about how for her, even though she's been in America for decades and decades and decades, she can't quite get rid of her accent. And for her, it's always been a point of making her feel uncomfortable and how people would, what, what, and mock her accent and make her feel that shouldn't belong. And what we have to understand is that if you don't feel like you belong somewhere, right, how uncomfortable is it guys like, let's like, come in a box right now. How uncomfortable is it when someone tells you that your presence is not wanted, that your presence right, is not appropriate, that you being there makes them feel uncomfortable. How can you be expected to focus on the work, to do the work, to be there, and to enjoy the process and the love learning when teachers feel uncomfortable with your sheer presence, right? I'm a 12-year-old kid. And to have my history teacher tell me that I was threatening to him, I was intimidating to him, have him marking down my grades all year thinking wasn't some kind of adversarial relationship, simply because of the way my face looks and the way my skin looks, that's a terrible, terrible experience.
And it made me mad, but it made me feel even more awkward than I already felt in a classroom where I was the only blackface. Right. And the reason this is like part two of the story. I was one of two black students in my class at this, at the school, the other black student we were in the same class actually got transferred out to another history teacher prior to me. So when all of this went down, we actually found out it was actually a systemic racist thing because the other black kid, he got transferred out. We thought it was because of a conflict. The sizing, no, he requested that that student be transferred out of his history class. And if we're not paying attention, guys, we don't recognize that. We don't see that. And we don't, we can't understand why it's so hard for black people, for students color to succeed in higher education.
It's like guys, the discrimination, the racism, the sense of being an imposter, the sense of not being sufficient, the sense of not being capable starts early, Good Starts early. And it's persistent. Does everybody understand what I'm saying right now? We have to be realistic. We have to, I'm an educator, right? So I'm talking about racism and education because that's my lane.
I can talk about racism. And so many of the ways we're going to get to that. And he's a couple of weeks, but this week I want to just focus on, let's start with one lane, I'll start with education. And let's talk about the difficulties that students of color face in their journey. And at the end of this week, what I hope to do is bring together all this stuff and talk about how we can overcome these issues, how we can deal with problematic, things like that. How we can deal with people who are in positions of authority, who don't show students of color, who don't show black students the same consideration, the same care, the same nurturing, right? The same support that they give to other students. And in fact, it's not even an absence of support. It's the oppression, it's the discrimination. It's the negativity that flows from these teachers, from these educators, from these authority figures who early on, try to put into the head of the student of color that they don't belong. Does everybody understand what I'm saying right now? This is a story. This is something that happened to me. This is something that could have derailed my academic career.
And I'm fortunate. I'm blessed. And as you, as me hearing all these stories this week, the common thread, the common anchor was that I had tremendously strong, tremendously proud parents who could educate me, who could teach me about what this was, who could prepare me for this to fortify me from these insults to fortify me from all these assaults. And when people ask me why I get, so I'm so serious about helping students, particularly students of color students from disadvantaged backgrounds. It's because I've been there. I know what it is. I know that it's not a loving level playing field. I know how it feels. I've sat in that seat. I've experienced the feelings you have. And one of the things we will talk about is no excuses just dominate, goes also to this. Yes. You can say that people don't want you there. Yes. You could say you feel uncomfortable, but at the end of the day, those are excuses. And what we have to do is move past that guys. And we have to dominate anyway, And I'm so happy. And I'm so pleased that this past week, that people's eyes. And I guess this happens all the time. I don't know if it's going to last, but I'm happy to see so many people recognizing, realizing that yes, the physical violence. Yes. The visual of seeing a black man held down for almost nine minutes with a knee in the back of his neck, causing him to die. That's a strong visual.
But what I would propose this week is that we understand that even though every black person in America doesn't have a knee on the back of their neck, physically Many black people walk around everyday feeling like there's a figurative knee in the back of their neck. Meaning there are people out there who wish to do them harm. There are people out there who wish to hold them down.
There are people out there who wish to keep them from progressing, from living their fullest life. And I think it's important that we recognize when we talk about racism and we talk about discrimination. There's a lot of different flavors. Y'all and those overt, right? No covert, right. And there's subliminal, right? And there are all sorts of things. And oftentimes racism goes, unquantified because it's not direct, but we have to recognize that our biases and people's biases and the way it affects our structure and the way we operate and the way we maneuver It, it's, it's a huge problem. It is a huge, huge problem because there's what I'm saying right now. Erica says racism and education alone sets people apart early on and discourages you from pursuing a better future.
It prevents you from making more, I'll pull it up here, making more, over the course of your lifetime, keeping you in a poor position. Right? And I like this. Noel says no excuses, right? They're not excuses, just extra hurdles that make us stronger. If we decided to jump them. And I think that's how we have to look at it. I tell students like, if you're a disadvantaged student, if you can overcome that disadvantage, you have the ultimate advantage because you've been running, you're beating people with shoes on. You've got no shoes on, you're in a barefoot. So once you get some shoes, a lot of food, man, who you fast get some air Jordans you going. But I think it's very, very important. Racism and discrimination are real and it persists. And it pervades every single aspect of our society. And there's a lot of people out here this week and I've been extremely disappointed. And some people that I know, right? I wouldn't have to call them friends.
I got a very small circle of friends, but I've been very disappointed with some colleagues. I've been very disappointed. Some of the talk I'm hearing at the hospital, but very disappointed. Some of what I'm seeing on social media, from people who are unsympathetic, who don't understand what we're describing, what we're talking about, and are skirting the issue. And so I'm hoping this week to bring some awareness to some eyeballs, to understand every single day, this we're going to bring you guys from every level of my education. There were major moments and we're starting small and soft in junior high. But every single day is we guys five o'clock every day. This week, Monday through Friday, we're going to be talking about races. And I'm talking about issues that happen to education. I'm going to be asking you guys to share your experiences, right? We're on here right now. Does anyone want to share there, how was your junior high experience? My students of color. Right? So Alex has important. Let's hear it, right? People that don't go through those hardships don't think anything about any of it, right? It doesn't even hit their mind. Like people are like shocked this week about police brutality.
Like this stuff hasn't been happening. And I think it's very important. If you guys want to share, I'll pull it up here. You post your story. What have you guys experienced? What is your early education in elementary school, junior high? Have you guys experienced slight? If you guys felt like you were treated differently because of the color of your skin, because of your cultural background, how do you guys have experienced this? Right. This is an opportunity we're trying to spread awareness and have people understand. This is what we live is what we go through every single day as students being put into a box being constrained. Right? And this is a good question, right? And this is something we're definitely gonna get into because there becomes this situation where you realize that people don't feel like you belong.
You realize that people look at you as a charity case as affirmative action. And you put this pressure on yourself to be a model minority, right. To be perfect because you can't afford to be less than perfect. And one thing that I'm constantly stressing, right? And working with a lot of Spanish students is you don't have to be perfect. But what you do have to do is continue. You have to be your best and you have to continually strive to make your best better through preparation, through practice, and through education. And so if you are a minority student, it starts with the fact that when my history teacher told me that stuff and was trying to say, I was intimidated, try someone.
I was a disruptive student in his class. The question that comfortable, how, and again, I'm a good student and all my other courses, I'm turning in assignments on time. I'm not disrupting them a pleasure to have in class, in fact, in other classes. So this was a break from that mold, right? I was known for being kind and courteous, right. A gentle giant of sorts in my school. So it didn't connect when all this stuff was going down. And so for you guys as minorities, what I want to say to you guys is you don't have to be perfect, but you do have to be competent. And you do have to work to be your best and understand that if you work to be your best, your best is good enough. You, as you are not changed, not different, not acquiescing, not trying to be somebody just being you, but being the best you is enough. And if you know that you're putting your best foot forward every single day, be proud of that. Be happy with that. Know that you're doing your job, know that you will get to your goals if you're giving your best.
Does that answer your question? So this was Carla says as a minority with a GPA 3.6 told by UCI, a UCI is a dot, dot, dot by accounts, that I was not going to be a physician. And Carla, I had my very own story. Similar to that. We'll talk about later this week, but right. That's the story. Josh, Shawn says the stress and the overt racism bias is exacerbating. I'm tired of feeling like I'm, I'm, I'm the model of blackness for whites to interpret from, right? And that's that other form of pressure where you become the only black person, they know where their whole entire black experience rides on you. And one thing that I've received some criticism for, right, we saw this last week was that I said that going HBCU. I don't recommend it for students of color. And there's a whole list of reasons, four to five-minute videos. We'll go back and watch that. Why you shouldn't finish HBCU that I was talking about. But one of the reasons I mentioned was is if we choose to segregate if we choose to stay only amongst other students of color, we are not allowing, we are not creating an opportunity to educate at these white universities to have these non predominantly black universities experience more black people to increase the sample size so that they understand that Josh Shaun, if on a one-off that he's not the only smart person, that he's not a real black person, because he talks proper, right? Because he is appropriate because he is focused on education. Understand that Joshua is what black people are. We are capable of it. We are educated. We are wonderful to be around. We are caring. So we have to expose people to that. So we can pull that pressure back from the one black student, let's get multiple buttons.
Let's form a coalition. Let's have a community because it is a lot of pressure. Antonio says I moved from Seattle, Washington to Mississippi in sixth grade. That's an interesting transition. On the first day of school, I was told that I could not get a history book from the library because I probably couldn't read it. That's rough. Right? Imagine being in sixth grade,  you go to the library, right? You're trying to get a book cause you're trying to learn juncture and the library and tells you, you can't get this book. You can't read it. Imagine that. Right. And the only thing they are basing your inability to read on is obvious. And again, it's not overt racism. Hey, you can't get in trouble. You can't read it.
Well, what other thing do you have to judge me on? Other than the color of my skin to tell me that I can't read. Right? And it's an awful leaf, a sour taste in your mouth. It makes you maybe not want to go back to the library makes you do not want to jump in there and do the extra work. Because when you go there, you're gonna be harassed. You're gonna be discriminated against. You have to deal with that negativity. And so you pull away, you withdraw, which we see in education. We see happen. So thank you for sharing Antonio Yep. And there are different standards. A hundred percent.
Okay. Jay says I had a similar story. I was told on multiple occasions during grade school, that and college that I didn't have what it takes to be a doctor. Right. And we're going to hear my own tale. Right. As I'm now a Stanford graduate of Stanford, I'm an anesthesiologist. I am a doctor guy, but I was told that multiple times, we're going to talk about those occasions. Right? And how do you do that? Makes students of color feel. You don't have what it takes. You're not good enough. You don't innately. There's something wrong with you and your nature and who you are. Right. Right. And this is what Kayla says. I've been told by many professors at a predominately white Institute that I won't get in medical school. Right. And why are they saying that Caitlyn? Right. Destiny says I had a teacher who was shocked that I was planning to become a doctor because my parents were African immigrants. Right. And we're going to talk about right. Immigrants to this country. I was mentioning with the doctor from Venezuela, who felt like she always had to be just that much more, better. She felt like they were always judging her. And it made her scared to socialize and network and go to different things because she felt like she was being judged. Like she didn't belong. Like they didn't want her there. She felt unwanted. Right. And let's just take a step back from education. Talk about relationships. How bad does it feel when you love somebody?
When you, you, you need someone, you want them so bad and they don't love you back. Your love is unwanted. They put the block down, talk to the hand, right. That rejection feels terrible. But for many students of color, we feel that rejection that, that we don't want you throughout our educational journey. And it's problematic and it's traumatic. Right. And I like this. It's like a domino effect. Right? Just knocking down black people, knocking down minorities, keeping diversity down. Yeah. Unrequited love. Yeah. Teenager fever, you know, what's up. Right. And Jay says it hurts. Right. They also made it hard for me to get access to the appropriate information I needed for medical school, giving you the runaround, right. Say, Oh, we can't help you. Maybe you go over there. Right. And that's not overt racism. Right. But, oh, we can't really help you. Why don't you? And you're left to fend for yourself. And we're gonna talk about right. This experience in college, as we get there and move through in junior high right now.
But just the lack of not going the extra mile to support students in the same way, because they're students of color, right. Giving up on the students, prematurely, not giving them the opportunity to say that they can be better. They can be more, they can overcome whatever their circumstances are, whatever their slow start is. Where are we at? If that's the case, right? So we'll get off of here. But I hope that everybody if you guys understand what we're talking about right now, like the video, let me know that you understand what we're talking about here today. Black lives matter, students of color matter. Diversity in higher education matters. And it's about creating equality and a level playing field equity.
It's not about letting in unqualified people. It's not about creating opportunities for people that they don't deserve, but it's about giving everyone a fair shot, a fair chance, a fair opportunity to pursue their dream, to pursue their goal. And you guys didn't see, as I said that someone thumbs down the video. Right. Right. And, and, and this is what happens. And we'll talk about medical school admissions. I don't put your comment up there, Jonathan, but we'll talk about that coming up this week. We will talk about that. And Antonio says that comment. We're going to talk about that experience. We're going to talk about that. Yeah. And the hierarchy of race. We're going to talk about that too. And the prejudices and the biases. We're going to talk about all that this week guy. So I appreciate you guys for joining me today. Let's continue to dialogue with this. I'm so happy to see people talking about issues. And this week I thought it was important. Talk about discrimination, prejudice, microaggressions, and to talk about the experience of students of color.
If you have a story that you want to share, you want to lay it out for me, send me email guys, get to my website. I'll put the link below you guys can contact me, get to my website, send me an email. And I'll share your story here. Because what we want to do is we want to make, we want to build awareness because we can't make a change. This is not, this is not. This talk is for everyone in the sense that if you are not a minority, you should be listening to this. Cause we want to educate you on our experience. Right? And it is about sex and it is about age. And that's why I'm constantly saying people kinda get mad when I say that, but we all face discrimination in different ways, Right? Why do women make less than every single industry? I don't know, must be something systemic. Think about that. Guys. Black lives matter. Students of color matter and diversion, higher education matters. And we're going to be shedding a spotlight on this. I hope you guys will join me all week.
This week. Tell your friends five o'clock Pacific time all week. This week, we'll be talking about different aspects of race and inequality in higher education and systemic racism. So I think you guys want to join me today. Thank you, guys. I might as always right up to Dr. Pinesett the website guys at thestudydoc.com. If you want to send me, get over there to get my contact page, send me an email. I'd love to hear from you and hear your opinions on this. If you're watching this after the fact, take a second, right? We are live acts right now, but common to the box. Let me know when you think, what has been your experience? Do you have something to add to the discussion? All right.
Thank you guys very much. I will see you all tomorrow. Danielle, what up later guys today is the day. Guys. No more excuses, no more complaining you're going to take your future in your own hands. You're going to dominate. You're going to be successful. Get to my website, thestudydoc.com. I challenge you. What are you going to do today to make your life better?


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