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Davis, California

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Column: Minority students

Oh man. This time next week, I’ll be writing an emotional closing to my short time as a columnist for The California Aggie. (I’m going abroad next quarter.)

So what do you write for your second-to-last column ever?

My mind is racing, actually. In my two years as a columnist, I’ve covered topics that were serious, comical and – at times – really just irrelevant.

My goal in writing this column was to help educate myself and the UC Davis campus about the inequalities I saw in the world. I think at first, I did just that. I was passionate, felt lively and couldn’t wait to piss somebody off with my writing each week.

But in the last couple months, I felt overwhelmed by how much was going on. Writing a measly column for a school newspaper in the middle of nowhere wasn’t helping the world in any way.

Now that the end is so near, though, I see all these possibilities for topics to write about. Especially with all the ridiculous racism and homophobia that has been taking place up and down the state on UC campuses.

There’s been xenophobia regardless of who is being targeted, and it really fuels my fire. It reminded me that by being a voice on a UC campus, I had a lot more power than I realized.

But like I said, I only have two columns left.

So I want to dedicate this second-to-last column to the minority students in the UC system. The final one will, of course, be dedicated to Tupac.

I have an 8-year-old baby brother back at home. He’s really bright, really quick. A few weeks ago, though, I was home and saw him struggling with his homework. He was doing word problems and my mom was trying to help him but she couldn’t understand it. She read each word with her finger under it and struggled to pronounce some of them before she asked for my help.

And it hit me: 13 years ago, I was an 8-year-old and my parents knew even less English then than they do now.

Fast forward to 2010. I’m a graduating senior getting two B.A.s at UC Davis, writing for the school newspaper in a language I didn’t learn until kindergarten and getting ready to go to law school.

That’s what being a minority at the UC is about.

It’s about the accomplishments as well as the baggage that we carry. It’s about not being a native English speaker, but still staying on par with your native-English speaking classmates. It’s about shaping your decisions around your family and setting an example for younger siblings.

Being a minority student at a UC means having a very different point of view than most people. Sometimes going home on the weekend means family making fun of you for being a nerd. It can mean being ostracized for moving out before marriage. It can mean your parents losing an employee.

So when you see something like a noose hanging in the library of a UC, what the fuck are you supposed to think? Being in higher education is alienating enough without seeing the word “fag” spray painted across the one safe space a LGBTIQ person might feel they have.

Students of color, minority students and those of all marginalized communities need to look back and remember how much they each have accomplished just by reaching the UC. Acts of hatred like those that have taken place across UC campuses should remind us all to get nice and cozy. We ain’t going nowhere.

Remembering how much I’ve accomplished since I was a child struggling in elementary school felt amazing. It will be a damned shame if I ever forget that again.

Don’t you forget it either.

Said Tupac, “And still I rise so keep ya head up, and make ya mind strong / It’s a struggle every day but you gotta hold on / Be strong.”

SARA KOHGADAI will find other ways to stir some shit up after her last column runs. Catch the series finale next Tuesday. She can be contacted at sbkohgadai@ucdavis.edu.


  1. Right. Minority students are advantaged: That’s why UC Davis is just teeming with black and Latino students! That’s why most Fortune 500 CEOs are people of color now! And whites are disadvantaged, that’s why they suffer from disproportionately high levels of unemployment in times like these! GIVE ME A BREAK. If it’s an advantage to be a minority, they sure are doing a good job of hiding it. And if it’s a disadvantage to be white these days, well gee, white people are overcoming a lot to achieve all their success, aren’t they?

  2. RealityCheck: Have you heard of affirmative action? Look it up. How much money is given to women/minorities for outreach programs, admissions help, etc.? How much to Joe the average white or asian male? Wake up. Sara acts like a sanctimonious victim when she’s been given far more advantages than I could even dream of.

  3. What the hell is your problem, chestercat? “Diminishing any achievement”? “Being a minority is an advantage, not a disadvantage”? “Earn something on your own”? Seriously, what the fuck?

  4. ” Fast forward to 2010. I’m a graduating senior getting two B.A.s at UC Davis, writing for the school newspaper in a language I didn’t learn until kindergarten and getting ready to go to law school.

    That’s what being a minority at the UC is about. ”

    Two B.A.’s? You mean 120 units? BFD. Want a cookie?

    In fact, you benefited from “minority outreach” programs, such as the pre-law one – you know what I’m talking about – diminishing any achievement. Being a minority is an advantage, not a disadvantage. Stop wearing it on your sleeve, Sara, and earn something on your own.


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