‘Skin Speaks

Regina Garcia Cano

Credit: DKS Editors

Students from different races and cultures talked about race relations without qualms last night at the moderated discussion “Skin Speak – Race Relations: Our Campus, Our World” sponsored by Save the World.

Katie Dougans, president of the organization, said race is an issue that is always in the back of people’s minds, but is commonly avoided in conversations.

“People feel it’s not politically correct, and we are so busy being overly polite, that we refrain from saying anything at all,” Dougans said.

Sophomore education major Maralee Bradley said people don’t talk about racism because they are afraid to be called racist.That’s the worst insult in the world, but sadly, racism is still feeling underneath,” she said.

Some students said racism begins with the expectations that some groups have about others.

Freshman biology major Ibsitu Ahmed said a clear example is the mistaken ideas the majority of Americans have toward Muslim people. She said after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, many people associated Muslims with terrorism.

“If you don’t take the time to talk to me, you can’t learn about my culture,” Ahmed, an Ethiopian native, said. “If we were willing to take the time to do it, this would not happen.”

For the majority of attendees, respect is a give-and-take situation.

“A lot of people are asking for equality but not willing to give it back, and it goes both ways,” Yvette Coil, senior conflict management major, said. “You can’t discuss with people if they are very guarded.”

Coil, who was raised in a predominantly Mexican area, said people should not expect respect if they do not grant it to others.

“Until we start seeing each other like equal individuals with the same rights . then it (respect) is not going to happen,” Coil said.

Bradley is afraid of discussing race-related issues with people from a different background than her because she is scared of being verbally attacked. But last night, Bradley said she felt really comfortable.

“I liked that I could say what I really feel, and people would say the same to me,” she said. “They deserve to know what some people really think. I owe it to people to tell the truth.”

For Idris Syed, associate professor of Pan-African studies, these discussions should expand university-wide. Syed, who moderated the discussion, said words are important, but actions are what matter.

“It was pretty clear that is a conversation that’s important, and hopefully it will lead to more productive conversations on campus.”

Contact minority affairs reporter Regina Garcia Cano at [email protected].