By Peter Tormey
Emmanuel Cannady, a residence director at Gonzaga, will present his master’s thesis at the 11th Annual White Privilege Conference, April 7-10, at the La Crosse Convention Center, in La Crosse, Wis. The conference explores difficult issues related to privilege, supremacy and oppression.
In Cannady’s research conducted at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, he interviewed self-identified African American students to see if more stress was associated with attending a predominantly white college. He found that students of color – if not student-athletes – usually felt more pressure to prove they belonged in a predominately white institution, and that they weren’t “affirmative action.”
Cannady, who earned a master’s degree in education (2009) from UW-La Crosse, also explored how students coped with the stress of their social environment. He found students in general – regardless of race or ethnicity – faced many of the same problems but coped with their challenges in unique ways.
“To me, we’re all the same. We have different experiences, but with the same themes,” he said.
He also found a few participants used the word “shy” to describe their internal rationalizations for a lack of will to initiate friendships, study groups, or of their learned helplessness from continued failure to make friends. One person saw her lack of friendships at the school as a reflection of her own shyness.
“However, when asked about her friendships back in Chicago, she immediately mentioned that she had a lot of friends and was very outgoing,” Cannady said, adding this student had internalized her own failures with establishing friendships at the school.