Personally speaking, as a Chinese I never encountered with racial discrimination in my daily life. Although I was reminded of this issue by my relatives and friends seriously before coming to the United States, I have not encountered any obvious racial discrimination. But this may be because I am lucky to be in Blacksburg, and in Virginia Tech—it is a peaceful, harmonious and friendly community which residents have higher levels of education and income. When I met with friends from other universities and regions in the United States, racial discrimination was a must-have topic. Although my friends have not suffered racial discrimination in class, those living in metropolitan areas have encountered some unpleasant things in their neighborhoods. Sometimes these behaviors are not invasive, bad or indifferent, they will make you feel treated differently. For example, I went to Georgetown University to attend my friend’s graduation ceremony. He told me that: “one driver of our school bus at night is an African-American. He never greets or speaks with the Chinese or people looks like a Chinese.” I take this bus with him that night, and he is right; The driver only said hello to blacks and whites. For the Chinese, it is just a poker face with silence. I don’t think this is discrimination, but obviously, it makes me feel uncomfortable unconsciously.
Before I came to the United States, racial discrimination is not a topic of concern. In my hometown, the Hui nationality (Muslim) is the most important ethnic minority in addition to the Han nationality. But the only difference in school you can feel is that they go to the halal canteen (no pork), not the ordinary canteen. Besides, they can get extra points in the college entrance examination. However, this situation has changed slightly in my college life. Just as Shankar Vedantam mentioned, “The Hidden Brain” may affect our thinking. In college admissions, universities will give preferential treatment to ethnic minorities such as Tibetans and Uighurs, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan students as well as foreign students. One consequence of this policy is that although they can enter China’s top universities easily, there is a huge gap in academic performance between them and Han students. This gives the Han students a feeling in the subconscious: THEY are not as smart as WE are. I can guarantee that I have never seen public ridicule, discrimination or any inappropriate behaviors toward them, but from everyday chat, you can feel that everyone regards it as a fact: they are counting down on the scores. In the qualifying exam for the doctoral student program in my school, if a student from Xinjiang or Taiwan fails, we will think it is normal; but if a Han student fails, we will think it is a shame. I think that is how “The Hidden Brain” works and it’s harder to eliminate, just as a Chinese philosopher Wang Yangming said: “It is very easy to eliminate the bandits in the city, but very difficult to suppress the bandits in your heart” (破山中贼易 破心中贼难).
Moreover, in my view, while racial discrimination is not a problem, the challenge of inclusive education is enormous, especially cultural differences between American and international students. When I do group work, presentations or papers, I usually work with other students from Asia—Korean, Filipino, Indian and Vietnamese. Well, this may be because there are too few Chinese in our department! But indeed, I don’t have much communication with the “native Americans”. The differences in values? The difference in living habits? I am not sure. Although I sometimes work with American students according to the mentor’s arrangement, I rarely take the initiative to team up with them. To be honest, I don’t have much feeling about the role of diversity in the classroom. At this stage, it is like a “politically correct” for me which is overestimated in the real world. I know it’s important, and everyone is talking about it, but I think I still need to experience it and feel it more in the future.