Diversity, and a Question Worth Answering

After attending the university’s discussion on whether or not diversity exists at Colgate, I was left with the sinking feeling that little had really been accomplished. After being charged with the idea that the majority has a responsibility to engage and help foster a bond with the minorities on campus, a student asked the question of what could be done to help the minority feel more at home here. Unfortunately, the panelists were unable to give a clear answer as to what could be done. This naturally left many in the audience with a vast though commendable goal with no clear path for how to achieve it.I cannot speak for every minority on campus, but I will say a few things that would make me feel more at home because it isn’t my wish to leave my classmates in limbo. It is my opinion that people in the majority too often refuse to listen to what those in the minority have to say. It’s not a conscious action, but merely a defense mechanism that stifles further conversation. For example, I can’t count the number of times that people have said things to me that I found offensive and attempted to correct them on, only to have them answer with “But I’m not racist!” Personally, I would prefer to hear a simple apology. If you don’t understand why I’m offended, asking sincerely why I have an issue when you say XYZ and actually listening to the reason also helps. We don’t necessarily have to agree, but in the end you should respect the fact that XYZ should never escape your mouth again. Not around me anyway.During the discussion the idea that intellectual diversity in terms of political conservatism and liberalism is more important than ethnic diversity was repeatedly brought up. How can I be expected to feel comfortable at a school where there are students and staff who say in so many words that all the ideas and cultural traditions I bring as an ethnic minority are not as important, thought provoking, or meaningful to the overall Colgate student body as a Conservative professor would be? Many of the people of color in the audience recognized and agreed with the notion that political diversity is important while many of the other more vocal majority students spoke as if it wouldn’t matter to them if there were no minorities on campus provided there was a balance in political thought. Coincidentally, these were the same students who weren’t sure what they should do to reach out to the minority population at Colgate, leading me to believe they really don’t give a…Lastly, I’m sick of hearing is how it’s been 50 years since this event or 40 years since that event, and as a result minorities should stop “complaining” because race is no longer an issue. How can this even begin to be true when my father can so vividly remember having the KKK shoot up the area in which he lived as a child and my mother can still remember drinking from “COLORED ONLY” fountains? Are the people who believed in forced segregation not still living as the grandparents of many and parents of some of my classmates? And it seems everyone has that one racist uncle/cousin/friend/brother in Tallahassee that makes him feel so ashamed or uncomfortable that they never actually say anything to. But that is of course, irrelevant because time has passed. Ugh. People need to stop measuring progress as solely a unit of time because time alone cannot heal a gaping wound. Only with care, which is in this case honest discussion and active attempts at understanding, can the wound of racism and ignorance even begin to heal.Oh, and to the kid who didn’t see the problem with not having any minority staff members available to speak, I ask this: If the discussion had included more minority staff members and perhaps even a minority student or two, wouldn’t this question have already been answered?