Once again, one of the Colgate student groups managed to put together another amazing event promoting diversity. Being the president of the African American Student Alliance, I was not expecting a large turnout for the presentation of the FX reality show Black.White. on January 23. I was shocked to see that so many people showed up, although many started to leave during the viewing.
Race and culture are very prominent issues that virtually everyone faces at some point in his or her lives. Brian Sparks and Bruno Marcotulli, two participants in the reality show, represented the society that we live in on a smaller scale. Despite the fact that both contestants obviously learned a great deal from essentially switching identities, they continued to bicker over racial issues. These are the issues I would like to address.
Being an African American man, it was interesting to hear Bruno Marcotulli’s perspective on his confrontations with race. Marcotulli is a Caucasian man who is disguised as African American for the show. Although I did not agree with many of his arguments, I have to commend him for speaking his mind and sparking different responses from students. I believe that anything arousing student involvement, whether it be in strong affirmation or negation, is a sign of a successful discussion. Whenever students become verbally vivacious, it is evident that whatever is being said is triggering a response emotionally. I think this should be encouraged, for students should feel comfortable enough to speak their minds.
This event, in another sense, acted as a plea for students to be more outspoken on issues that may be controversial or troubling. I just do not understand the tendency some students have to ignore race and culture altogether. This is of no benefit to the community.
Coming away from Marcotulli’s and Sparks discussion about race in our society, I feel that many students left only taking away the fact that they witnessed a discussion featuring two television stars. Ignoring the notion that the two men were featured on a hit television show, the main point of the discussion was to question the society we live in and to get students thinking about how race impact so many. This message may seem corny and clich?e, but it is the most important and, ironically, the hardest objective to accomplish.
More importantly, students at Colgate need to start realizing who they are as individuals in a diverse community. I know that a lot of people, like myself, are tired of walking past someone of a different race, only to find that the person is deliberately putting his or her head down in order to avoid verbal or visual communication. Colgate University is bent on establishing itself as a diverse institution, yet I do not see how that is being achieved. To be truly diverse, we as students are obligated to confront one another to learn about each other. The word, “university” is a combination of the words “unite” and, “diversity,” and to tell you the truth, I feel as though this institution is not a university in that sense.