Race2Excellence blog 12-8-2013

December 8, 2013
I sent a letter to the editor of my local newspaper about a “problem” at the university: the following is the “Letter to the editor, I thought you might appreciate the thought:
[December 4, 2013, major headline: “Does (the university) need to take remedial class on race? (the Dean’s) forced resignation brings discomfort out in the open.” The key to the entire article lies in the statement, “Student complaints appear to be divided into two groups.

One group asserts that the Professor’s departure signals a ‘hostile atmosphere’ for black students, professors and administrators at campus… They say the university forced the professor out after forcing out the Police Chief, also an African-American, each of them was there less than two years…” If you don’t mind, for this discussion, let’s just assume the Professor and the Police Chief had nothing to do with our problem.

“A larger group says the lack of awareness about racial differences is the biggest problem. What’s more common, they say, is differences that no one understands and no one wants to confront.”

For some reason, I’m confused! If we are consistent in attempting to answer the question about “remedial class on race,” and it’s “not a black and white issue,” what is it?

The answer would tend to lie in the admitted student complaints that appear to be divided into the two groups. Let’s see if we can break this down into manageable segments: the first one, “lack of awareness about racial differences is the biggest problem.”

Just as an aside: Fifty years ago Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. shared one of his dreams with us, “…that one day my children will be judged, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” that “dream” still resonate among us to this day. One of the ways our nation is attempting to make that dream a reality is to provide special incentives to our disadvantaged youth that might free them from the dredges of poverty.

However, before we can solve that one, we need to identify the fact that many of us are attempting to attack poverty without identifying its source. Poverty has nothing to do with material belongings, or skin color. What we as a society attempt to eradicate (which we will never do) is poverty because it, as is wealth, is a mind thing. In other words, both wealth and poverty is in the mind of the individual. That means “racial differences” and character are two different things. One has nothing to do with the other, except in the mind of the individual.

The second issue, the easiest to resolve is, “…differences that no one understands and no one wants to confront.” Well, doggone it, let’s identify it, open it up and confront it. Once we do that we’ll find it’s not a problem at all, all we need to do is follow one of the Professors’ stated example.

The professor to whom I referred is an African-American studies professor, he has been at the university since 1985: he said “My role is to make sure that while I’m in this environment, people are treated fairly.” That should be the role of every individual on the university campus, student and/or Faculty.

Incidentally, the fact that only 8.2 percent of the university’s undergraduate students, might provide a clue to a greater problem. Nevertheless, the newspaper is absolutely correct: “the problem is “Not a black and white issue.”]

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