Categories
Reflections

Diversity Part II

First, If you sent me any e-mail to a @brandonkraft.com e-mail address during the last month, I didn’t get them! Damn ISP! If you did, please forward to a working address. Secondly, some mindless images to help you all through the day.

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If you suck at chemistry, you may end up dying.

Also, I wanted to throw in this picture I think you will like. UT’s PTS gave this to me on the 24th around 1:30.

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Next up, do you remember the diversity column I wrote? Remember the little rant I had at the top of the page a week or so after that? Adam from Grinnell, IA sure does. He wrote me a reply, like I asked any of my viewers who disagreed to do, telling me that in fact, I am wrong. On the rant, I mentioned an event at a UT fraternity about how one of the members dressed up as a black person for a costume party of some sort. There were complaints filed to the University because of the incident. I said that getting all pissed off and trying to fix college students is not the best way to stop the problem. Here is Adam’s e-mail in it’s full glory:

I must respond to your comment on the comments you made about the racial situation at college. While I am not a student at UT and I don’t know about the “events” you mentioned I have a problem with your analysis of the students. I know it is not your intention but you are making excuses for the racist ideas of the students. You say that they are beyond change and teaching and if this is true then why do we bother educating them if they cannot change their ideas on a subject. Your statement:
“For everyone calling out for racial respect after the fraternity incident, realize that these people came probably from “white” suburban areas. They do not understand the culture nor the complexities of trivializing it. It is not a good thing but that is just how it is.”

You are excusing their behavior because of where they are from. College above any other place should be concerned with and able to change the perceptions of people and to educate them not only academically but also socially. Don’t you dare say such a narrow minded comment as “that is just how it is.” THAT excuse is one that has allowed such racist and bigoted ideals to continue. Just because they have held the idea for years and are at college doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be expected to change. Also don’t discount the accomplishments of the civil rights movement. I don’t know if you intended it, but know that there are serious negative connotations to the word “tolerance”. I was largely disappointed by the comments and I hope that you don’t truly feel the way that you came across. Also might I suggest the following link: http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/initial.html
p.s.: I have no hard feelings against you…I am just writing a letter to the editor.

First off, I must thank Adam for voicing out. One of the goals of this site is for people to be able to exchange ideas in some form. Not the greatest but, eh I’m also only a first-year college student with no time.

In response to the letter, I never meant to imply that bigotry was acceptable or that we shouldn’t try at all to change people’s opinions and thoughts at this point in the game. At college age, however, many people are set in their ways. The ability to transform someone of an adult age is much more difficult unless he or she wants to be transformed. I am not saying let the racists be racist but I am saying people should put more effort to stop the root of the problem rather then just the result of the problem. Teach about diversity and being colorblind in elementary, junior high and high school. It is along the same lines as the premise of the D.A.R.E. program- for those who do not know, D.A.R.E. is designed to teach elementary-aged students to stay away from drugs before they really get into the situation where they will be faced with that option. Focusing on college students would not be the best time to deter drug use as most kids start/try drugs at an earlier age. It’s the same thing with racism- yes, try to get college students aware of the issues but focus your time on a younger group. Teach kids before they get set in a mindset that the mindset of racism is wrong. The civil rights movement did accomplish goals. Black people attend class with me, vote with me, do whatever they want to with me. Yes, the civil rights movement accomplished a lot. The mission still is not complete, I agree. I disagree with college students getting pissed off at other college students without trying to figure out why they are that way. I know black people who are incredibly racist towards white people. Am I upset with them because of this? At first yes, after talking to one of their friends, I realized that they grew up in a mostly black neighborhood and the only real interaction they had with most white people fell along racial lines. They didn’t like me because most of the other white people they have seen were racist towards them in some fashion.

Back to the point, I do think that the college students who committed this acts could have a narrow mindset and that is not proper, not right and should not be allowed- however, while attempts should be made to open their minds, why are we not trying to keep their minds open while they are in a 99% white school in suburban Houston? They are racist probably not because they hate or dislike black people. I don’t think they’re anti-Black. I think it comes from a lack of understanding of the cultures. Now, don’t get me wrong with this next example- I’m trying to connect it to a general topic not so heated. Aggie jokes. We’ve all heard them at some point. When I was in elementary school, most of us shared them even though we did not have a grasp on what A&M and UT were really about. My experience through school was to keep an open mind about all colleges and so I applied to both UT and A&M with no preset determination where I wanted to go. After interactions with both schools, I did choose UT. Now, I play with my Aggie friends but I don’t really mean to punk on their school. How does this relate to race? Follow the metaphor a little farther, the students who committed this told these jokes throughout school and somewhere along the line, never learned that it was wrong and mostly unfounded. It’s time to decide where to go to school. Of course, Aggies are nothing but idiots so of course they’re going to want to go to UT instead. They don’t realize the error of their ways and knowing hardcore Aggies and hardcore Longhorns, it’s not an easy thing to change. With race, it’s not very different. The student never realized it was wrong and for the first time, it really being called on that. After having this mindset gel for 19 or 20 years, it’s really difficult to break the mold. It’s possible and it needs to be done- however, the student must want to think differently. If we have, for a lack of a better word, diversity education in these 99% white schools, the mold will have a less of a chance to be placed into effect and thus the lessen the likelihood of gelling.

It is the way it is. It’s not a good thing- I admitted to start with, but it is true. I am not saying that it can’t be corrected but you must solve the problem, not just the symptoms.

Am I still wrong? Did I piss you off for another reason? Let me know.
P.S. Adam, it’s all cool. I needed a topic for this week anyhow

Categories
Reflections

diverse? we aren’t!

Another week has gone by in this Spring semester. I’ve skipped too much class already. I really need to stop doing that. If you hear about me skipping again, yell at me. I’m serious. Call me up and yell. If you don’t know my number, then IM me and tell me to get off the computer and go to class!

I’m going to start on a quick light note- my roommate Ricky has decided he is going to be the UT Superhero ending any and all crime on campus. However, the job position of superhero is not one you can just walk into so he needs your help. If you have any ideas for costumes, a name, a theme, any symbols, etc, please shoot me an e-mail.

Now my second topic of the week is bound to upset some people. If you happen to be one of those people, feel free to contact me and voice your opinion. Okay, diversity rallies- I don’t like them. I am not saying I don’t like diversity. I just don’t like the rallies. For those of you who do not know of my high school background: My high school was diverse. We had a pretty even mix of white, black and Hispanic. It wasn’t a “white” school. We had a pretty open flow of culture between all the ethnic groups. Blacks were 26% of the school population, Hispanics were about 16%. About half were “white, non-Hispanic” and the remainder came from Native Americans, Asians, et al. We never made any big deal about being a diverse campus- we just were diverse. The district allowed all 8th graders to choose which high school he/she would like to go to and we ended up being a diverse school. I’m at UT now and I’ve heard stories from A&M about diversity rallies held at the two campuses. I just laugh when I heard about this. UT has only around 16% minorities total. A&M has a total of 14% minorities. Although I hate to admit this, our campuses are not that diverse. We hold diversity rallies to celebrate our diversity. What diversity? We aren’t diverse so we try to act like it. What the hell good is that? A rally will not change anything. It won’t magically add minority students on campus. I love black people, I love Hispanic people, but what I love most is when I’m around people of other races and it’s not a big deal. Instead of holding a rally to act like we’re diverse, let’s become diverse. I don’t want to parade around campus telling myself we are. We aren’t. It’s as simple as that.

This will upset people as well but that’s the kind of musings this will be this week. The MLK Statue on the East Mall was egged on the previous Monday causing an uproar (story 1, story 2) on campus. I do not think that it was proper to egg the MLK statue nor do I condone that action. However, everyone made such a big deal about this. Some students reported seeing flowers around a statue of Lee on campus. Well, two other buildings (ACE and GEO, the Daily Texan newspaper said RLM which is not what police reports state) were also egged the same night. It sounds like some kids were throwing eggs around campus. Were they trying to send out their political message of hate on campus? Maybe. Were they trying to get a cheap thrill? Possible. The MLK statue is the only one on campus guarded with video cameras. Adds a little to the thrill factor. I know many people will take this the wrong way and I’m prepared for that. I just don’t feel that a statue being egged is that big of a deal. If they hung a sign on it saying racial slurs- that’s a big deal. If they tried to destroy or deface the statue- that’s a big deal. Throwing some eggs at a statue and two other buildings. I just don’t see that as a clear racial hate issue. Some people will bring up that the statue of General Lee on campus had flowers around it. No one reported this to the police as vandalism and only the newspaper had a report of a student seeing this. The people who threw eggs could be connected to that, it could be someone else who has a racial issue or who knows. I really just don’t feel the eggs were that big of a deal. According to the Daily Texan, Student Government “voted unanimously Tuesday [Jan. 21, 2003] to pass a resolution condemning the statue’s defacement and urging the UT administration to adopt and implement a racial harassment policy.” Great for them. There is no reason why we should allow racial harassment on campus. When was the last reported harassment due to race on campus? I have no idea. There has been nothing in the police reports for this school year about it that I can recall. Take that for what you will, if you think I’m wrong.

On a much lighter note, Saturday the 25th was the first “Whose Date Is It Anyway?” date auction at the University Catholic Center. It was amazing. For all those members of STRONG (if any) who check out this site, you did a great job. I am impressed and that isn’t easy to do. All in all, from what I heard, around $4,000 was raised to help complete the new center.

Adam asked me this week why I had Matt’s weather online but not his since he was in fact colder. I checked it out and he’s right. Adam is colder at Grinnell College than Matt is at MIT. [as of when I wrote this on the night of January 26th. Weather does change.] Also, if you need to know any random facts about cars, Adam knows what you seek. I’ll mention some of his random facts in the weeks to come.

That is that for this week’s musings. Matt’s stats are below as they were last week. I’ll be setting up a page so you can track his progress towards 100% soon. Also, if you have any idea for RM232, shoot me an e-mail. I have some ideas in the works but any feedback would be great.