Open dialogue leads to cultural understanding

On UMiami Secrets and Yik Yak, there have been several posts directed at minority and cultural organizations, questioning their purpose on campus. Some of these posts have advocated for the formation of a “United White Students” organization.

In the wake of the Ferguson decision, and subsequent protest on campus, there has been an increase in posts on both of these forums, many of them resorting to racial slurs and stereotypes in order to get their view points across. For example:

“Why can’t I celebrate the color of my skin like anyone else? I can’t because of all the ignorant black people who can’t move past a hatred that was in America a long time ago that they weren’t even directly affected by,” UMiami Secret No. 5609 said.

“Someone get a fire hose,” a Yik Yak post said.

“Since when is there a zoo at the Rock,” a Yik Yak post said.

SEE ALSO: Black Lives Matter protest sparks conversation about on-campus racism

These quotes are but a few of the sentiments expressed recently by our peers on these sensitive topics. Unfortunately, there are many more just like these that are currently in circulation, and they result in students feeling uncomfortable and unwelcome in the place that they call home.

Our university prides itself on diversity, and it’s OK to celebrate your skin color, as long as it is done tastefully and respectfully as opposed to spitefully. These posts, however, showcase attitudes that no one truly wants to address. We like to consider ourselves to be a “post-racial” generation, but that is incorrect. We are not a post-racial generation; we are a generation that is extremely uncomfortable talking about race. But when you ignore a problem, it doesn’t go away; it simply festers and re-emerges at an “inconvenient” time.

Students over the past few weeks have suggested that African American students essentially need to “get over it” and “suck it up” because slavery happened a long time ago. But desegregation did not actually take place until 1964, only one or two generations ago.

The reason many of our peers are up in arms about the existence of United Black Students and organizations like it, or students gathering on campus to peacefully protest, is ignorance of the underlying issues.

Unless you have been the victim of institutionalized discrimination, you will never fully grasp the emotional and psychological toll that it can take on a person. If you have never been harassed by the police, followed around a department store for no apparent reason, or assumed to be less than your peers solely based on your skin color, it may be difficult to grasp why people are so upset.

It is OK to not understand; there are things that we all don’t understand. However, a sign of maturity is admitting that you simply do not understand and seeking to learn about why the other side feels as they do. The solution to this unrest that is sweeping campus, and also the nation, is not attacking those who are upset about the treatment of minorities in this country, or their cultural organizations.

Instead, in order to foster understanding and eliminate some of the prejudice that has been voiced in the various posts, there needs to be an open dialogue between both sides. We need to come together and decide to attack the issue, not the person, because no one should be made to feel unwanted in their own home.

Taylor Duckett is a senior majoring in business law.

December 8, 2014


Taylor Duckett

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