Diversity begins with the individual

By Staff Writer
March 20, 2003

Alaina Robinson

Being a mix of four nationalities, as well as a descendant of two Native American tribes, the topic of diversity is nothing new to me. I see diversity at all of my family gatherings, in my family photo albums and everyday when I look in the mirror.

However, when it comes to discussing diversity on Cabrini’s campus, at times I feel like it’s a trip down a dead-end street. From freshman year, I can recall several class discussions that involved possible initiatives to be taken in order to increase Cabrini’s diversity. Now, as a senior, I am still partaking in these same exact conversations. Why are we still just talking?

During the forum held on Monday, March 17 in the Grace Hall boardroom, ideas were presented as to how we as a community can begin to increase an understanding of racial tolerance on campus. But we as individuals can also make contributions to such a cause.

That particular forum is a prime example. I applaud senior Geronna Lewis for taking the initiative to approach Myrna Grandgenett and Shirley Dixon after her displeasure with a previous forum held on campus. This is the type of step that individuals should take in order to get the entire community involved.

I was also pleased to see a large turnout by the minority population at this event. I just wish I could see this at other events on campus as well. There have been numerous occasions when I have attended a Campus Activities-sponsored event and was able to count the number of minorities in attendance on one hand.

As minorities, we cannot wait for others to extend their hands to us and invite us into diversity. As well, the white population should not have to wait for their minority peers to take a stand so that they may follow suit. It is up to each one of us to work towards a solution, whether you have a coalition of followers or not.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was ONE individual who made a difference. Mahatma Gandhi was ONE individual who made a difference. Rosa Parks was ONE individual who made a difference.

If you feel that minority celebrations are underrepresented on campus, then sit down in front of a computer, make a flyer and spread the word instead of sulking in your dorm room. If you feel that there is a presence of segregation in the cafeteria, then sit with someone of a different race during your next meal instead of eating with your usual group.

If you feel that Loquitur does not fulfill your expectations in covering certain issues, then write a letter or speak with one of the editors instead of just complaining to your friends about it. If you feel there should be a larger percentage of diversification in Cabrini’s enrollment, then schedule a meeting with an admissions representative to discuss the issue instead of keeping a closed mouth on the subject.

You shouldn’t need someone else to direct you on things that you feel strongly about, nor should you have to wait around for the support of others. History shows that individuals bring about change. If something bothers you, then DO SOMETHING about it.

There seems to be a stigma around associating with people outside your own race or social group. Minorities who hang with predominately white groups are considered sell-outs among their own, and whites that hang within minority groups are deemed the term “wigger.” Why do we do this to each other?

College is supposed to prepare us for the real world, and believe me, what occurs outside the confines of this campus is much worse than words and symbols of hate written in shaving cream on a wall. We have to effectively learn how to deal with these types of situations NOW.

Forums like the one held on Monday are steps in the right direction, but we lose a couple of those steps when there is a clear separation in the seating arrangements at such an event. Attending a forum discussing diversity just to see the majority of white people on one side of the room and the majority of minorities on the other is disturbing. I assume that this was not intentional. We have to begin to change our subconscious tendencies in order to continue in the right direction.

We must also realize that hate crimes and other acts of racial intolerance happen. They always have, from the founding of this nation, and mostly likely always will. Brushing it off as a joke is unacceptable, but dwelling on it doesn’t exactly reap any major benefits either.

I was always taught to take negative experiences and discover the positive aspect so that I may learn from it and grow as a human being. The incident in Xavier Hall was ignorant, disgraceful and unfortunate. I am ashamed that such a thing would occur here. However, this incident has brought our campus community together and forced people to address the diversity issues at Cabrini and take these type of actions more seriously.

I propose to the Loquitur readers, whether a member of the campus community or someone in California reading the online edition to take some initiative, as an individual, toward cultural diversity.

Whether it is saying hello to a passing stranger of a different ethnicity, writing a letter about a diversity-related issue to a media outlet, researching your own ethnic heritage and sharing it with someone of a different ethnicity, joining an organization or activity that is predominately a race other than your own, volunteering with group that supports gay and lesbian rights or handicap services, or organizing an educational forum about cultural diversity, make a contribution as an individual, and begin taking steps in the right direction.

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