Separation is self-imposed

Shelley Blundell

In life, there are many things that puzzle me. For example, why can only one in five Americans name more than one of the rights guaranteed to them in the First Amendment? Why do women complain about the need for societal acceptance and then support media agencies that promote the “unattainable image?”

Even scarier, why does Kent State’s men’s basketball coach now make more than the vice president of the United States?

Perplexing, indeed.

But perhaps the most puzzling concept I have been struggling with lately is the idea of equality within separation. Why do we constantly question the separation that exists in society when all around us, examples of self-imposed separations abound?

For example, we have a Miss America Pageant, and then we have a Miss Black America Pageant. We have bars, and then we have gay bars. We have mainstream magazines, and then we have magazines targeted purely at Latin-Americans.

I embrace diversity with every inch of my being – I am the epitome of the term “melting pot” myself, a white African living in America and struggling with the maze that is U.S. immigration, and I understand what it’s like to be “different.” But that doesn’t mean I’m going to go out and start an organization that will separate me from the very society I am trying to blend into.

I understand that sometimes we need the fellowship and advice of people like ourselves because knowing there is someone else out there who feels our plight makes the plight that much easier to deal with. However, there is a big difference between creating an organization where people of similar interests, cultures and beliefs can get together to share those ideas and creating an organization that focuses on separating themselves and their agenda from the rest of society.

So, in light of my dissatisfaction with self-imposed separation, I am going to make a suggestion that might be somewhat controversial. I propose Kent State and any group associated with it does away with “separate” awards. If I win an award, I don’t want to win it because I was the best South African or minority competing for the award – I want to win it because I know I truly deserved it, because I was better than anyone else who was nominated. And if award ceremonies or any other aspect of society are skewed, and different race or sexual groups are being unfairly cut out of the running, then we need to take issue with that and change it instead of creating separate institutions. At the end of the day, by doing that, we let the bigots win. Why bother to enforce separation when we do it so well ourselves?

If you are reading this and thinking “separate award ceremonies and institutions help us recognize people in our respective communities who have achieved great things,” consider this: How angry would you be if there was suddenly a “White United Students” organization on campus that, every year, held an award ceremony entitled “The Ivory Achievement Awards”?

Puzzling, isn’t it?

Shelley Blundell is a senior magazine journalism and history major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].