LEWISBURG — Black business entrepreneur Nisan Trotter, 37, owner of Trot Fitness, grew up in rural Alabama, in an area with a white-majority population similar to the Susquehanna Valley, so when he accepted a football scholarship at Bucknell, moving to this rural area did not require a big adjustment.
Trotter doesn't recall a hallmark moment where he has felt racism or singled out in Lewisburg.
"I can recall, however, being a Black student on Bucknell's campus," he said. He was a business management major.
"At the time," he said, "3 percent of the student population was African American, and a large majority of that population consisted of athletes. I remember going into my classroom setting at Bucknell and I was the only black student in the entire room. Sometimes, when questions were asked and I spoke up, it felt as though as I was somehow representing my whole race. That was one of the times when I felt, 'Man, I'm sticking out a lot here' because from one classroom to the next, one study to the next, I was the only black in the classroom."
Trotter said he was never stopped by the police in this area, even as a student. "I didn't have a car as a student. I wasn't big into partying and things like that so I never had much interaction with campus security. I have had friends, fellow students who may have had run-ins with the law, but personally, I didn't."
Still, Trotter said he has always been aware of the color of his skin, in this predominantly "white space," he said.
"In America, you are always aware of your blackness," he said. "Most of the time we are the minority. So I was very used to that having been born and raised in Alabama. I don't think discrimination or racism is more blatant here than it is in Alabama."
But he is always aware of discrimination.
"Even to this day, when asked how and where I got my education and I say, Bucknell, I know for certain, just by the look on their face, it seems to shock people," Trotter said. "It is a dose of reality for some people that Black people are capable of earning a prestigious degree from a school like Bucknell.
"I can recall occasions when I was in school, going to some local stores here and folks asking where I am from, and I shared that I go to Bucknell University, I am a student," he said. "Then it seems almost like the blinders are taken off and ... like 'wow. Really? You of all people?' Those are some things I remember, but nothing real hardcore and graphic, that I can recall."
One thing, in particular, disturbs Trotter: The Confederate flag.
When Trotter sees a Confederate flag in someone's front yard or as an ornament or sticker on a vehicle, it dredges up bad emotions.
"It is a flag that to me represents bigotry," he said.
"When I see that flag," Trotter said, "I think of somebody who possibly doesn't like me because of the color of my skin. When I see that flag I think of somebody who may call me a racial slur. I applaud those who feel it should not be posted in public places. I don't see it representing America."