CORTLAND, N.Y. – If you managed to catch the most recent episode of This American Life, you heard the story of Kiana Jackson, a SUNY Cortland student who described her experiences interacting with white people.
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For those not familiar with This American Life–which currently ranks #2 on the iTunes podcast subscriptions chart–a typical episode usually consists of several different stories that revolve around a central theme.
The most recent episode focused on the issue of integration in schools, though Jackson’s portion of the episode mostly serves as a humorous prologue to a deeper public policy issue.
Jackson went from an overwhelmingly black and Latino high school in the south Bronx to a college that is roughly 75 percent white.
One of the show’s producers, Chana Joffe-Walt, spoke with Jackson about why she decided to attend SUNY Cortland:
Joffe-Walt: And she told me at graduation that she decided to go to college upstate, to a school that would have mostly white students. And a big part of that was just because she wanted something different. She still had this curiosity. And she was basically going on this like, one woman integration program.
Jackson recently finished up her first year at SUNY Cortland, and from what she told Joffe-Walt, she’s enjoying her time there so far:
Jackson: Everybody’s really friendly. And I kind of didn’t expect that as much. Just coming from like, going to school in the south Bronx and just commuting all the time, everybody’s not so friendly. And here like, everybody will stand there for like a whole minute holding the door for you till you get there. Just friendly all the time. And sometimes you’re like, you don’t know if it’s genuine, because you’re not used to it.
Joffe-Walt: Wait. So you find yourself questioning if they do really want to hold the door for you?
Jackson: I know that they do, but like, it’s weird.
Jackson goes on to recount her experience at last year’s Cortaca Jug game. We would elaborate on that, but it gets a bit vulgar. Listen for yourself here.
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