Student Helps Visiting UCLA Friend Understand Concept of ‘African American Student’

by Andy Gause

USC–Johnny Kipling, a so-sociology Junior, showed his UCLA friend, Freddy Lee, around campus.  However, things took a turn for the worse when Mr. Lee noticed something he’d never seen before.

“Freddy saw a black student,” reported Mr. Kipling.  Mr. Lee had seen African Americans at UCLA, but never outside of the Paley Center or Rose Bowl.

Mr. Lee asked several questions about the African American student in question. Among which was whether he was like Winston from New Girl. To address some of Freddy’s inquiries, the two decided to chat with Matt Rafson, a Philosophy student and confirmed black man.

Initially, Mr. Lee was nervous about speaking to Mr. Rafson.  “It’s natural, Freddy’s never experienced anything like this before, so of course he wouldn’t know what to expect,” said Mr. Kipling.  Mr. Lee was immediately taken aback by Mr. Rafson’s cool demeanor and pleasant attitude.

“It was all a little embarrassing to tell you the truth,” said Mr. Kipling “Freddy kept asking questions about Matt, specifically about Matt’s hair and whether he could touch it.” After 6 “no’s” and several minutes of tense silence, Mr. Lee eventually overcame his anxiety and started treating Mr. Rafson like a normal person.

Overall, the conversation went smoothly. Mr. Rafson and Mr. Lee shared a love of Breaking Bad and Super Smash Bros. “Freddy was so surprised at how much he had in common with Matt,” said Mr. Kipling.  Later in their trip, Lee and Kipling passed other African Americans on campus, but according to Mr. Lee, “it wasn’t as big a deal.”

Thankfully, Mr. Kipling had experience with this type of situation.  Last semester, a high school friend and University of Portland student visited and didn’t know how to react to the presence of sunlight.  According to Mr. Kipling, “he kept hissing at the ‘devil ball’ in the sky.  But once I took him to the beach, he began to relax and soak up the rays.