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Friday December 9th

Minority men detail ups and downs of UNC life

Osiris Rankin, a senior psychology major, Darius Whitney, a senior political science major, and Dr. Juan Carrillo, an assistant professor in the UNC School of Education, discuss their place in the university setting and the challenges they have faced as minority males at a Carolina Millennial Scholars Program's event entitled "The [Mis]sed Education of the Minority Male" Thursday evening in Wilson Library.
Buy Photos Osiris Rankin, a senior psychology major, Darius Whitney, a senior political science major, and Dr. Juan Carrillo, an assistant professor in the UNC School of Education, discuss their place in the university setting and the challenges they have faced as minority males at a Carolina Millennial Scholars Program's event entitled "The [Mis]sed Education of the Minority Male" Thursday evening in Wilson Library.

As an African-American male majoring in political science, Darius Whitney is always one of few black students in his classes.

He feared making a stupid comment and hearing students around him whisper, “He’s black. That makes sense.”

On Thursday night Whitney, alongside two other black males, faced a small crowd of predominantly minority students and shared his story, including his struggles and hopes for minority male students. The panel discussion, hosted by the UNC Carolina Millennial Scholars Program , examined why it is important for minority males to be successful.

“It’s really hard to show the other side of you that’s not black,” Whitney said. “Other people who don’t have that puzzle piece, it’s hard for them to not look at you as having that puzzle piece.”

Psychology major Osiris Rankin, another panelist at Wednesday’s event, agreed that being known as the ‘other’ is less than ideal.

“It’s not that I don’t want to be known as black, it’s that I don’t only want to be known as black,” he said.

Rankin did not let his blue-collar background and failing high-school grades hinder him from attending community college and now, UNC.

“My mom was a maid for doctors, and I read from a young age,” Rankin said. “When I look back, I ask, ‘How could I read so early?’

“Someone gave me books, someone fought for me. I know it’s not just my success.”

School of Education professor Juan Carrillo said transitioning from his early life in Los Angeles, Calif. to the realm of white-denominated academia was a shaky process, but he was able to meet faculty members who looked like him.

“When you grow up in a particular marginalized community, it’s not natural to be like, ‘Well, I think Socrates was arguing...’ That just wasn’t me,” Carrillo said.

“Sometimes it feels good to not always be the panda at the national zoo or the fish in the aquarium.”

The panelists were doing more than just recounting their stories. Freshman Lea Efird said she was surprised at how she was able to relate to what they were discussing.

“I think what they were saying was applicable to more than minority males,” Efird said. “I lived in a white, rural community, so being able to hear their experiences and that they’ve not just had negative experiences was neat.”

Freshman Sydney Tillman also felt connected to the stories she heard.

“I kind of wished more white people were here,” she said. “Hearing them talk really changed my idea of the prospect that minorities don’t get identity.”

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