Community · Morgantown · Uncategorized

We Need to Change

“Five years prior to today there was media coverage of at least 15 black face parties, 24 neo KKK incidents, and over 200 racist emails or graffiti acts at American Universities,” said Nathan Sorber, Assistant Professor of Higher Education at West Virginia University.

On April 4, Tim Wise, an anti-racist activist and writer, came to West Virginia University to talk about racism. He brought up the fact that it was not that long ago when African Americans were fighting for equal rights.

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We tend to tell people of color that they need to get over the history but we should be learning from our past and not running from it. White people do not and cannot understand fully the history of what African Americans went through. With Donald Trump making the statement “Make America Great Again,” we forget that America was not great for all people.

“Some folks tell you they want their country back; back is a historical reference,” said Wise. “…They have hats that say ‘Make America Great Again,’ because the assumption is that its not great now…like 1958 great, and for anyone who wasn’t white, anyone who wasn’t straight, anyone who wasn’t Christian, (America) wasn’t such a hot-ass place to live.”

Racism happens everyday and everywhere. Those of color face some challenges that whites do not, and that is wrong.

It is up to those that are able to be educated to educate others that we need to become one in order for this country to truly become great again. West Virginia University wants to change the identity of not just the people but the campus. We may be diverse but we still lack equity and inclusion.

During the question and answer session at the end of the lecture a female engineer stood up to question how to feel more included. I remember this lady because she seemed like a strong individual. We need to fix the problem with color in some cases.

“How do you talk to old white guys like me about my racism? I’m a racist,” said an older white male during the lecture.

An extreme example, but one that I think needs to be talked about. There are still some people who feel this way, and these are the people that we need to target and educate.

We need to change.

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6 thoughts on “We Need to Change

  1. Emily,
    Anything and everything that WVU can do to reduce and hopefully eliminate the hillbilly/redneck stereotype of WVU and West Virginia is a good thing. Not only is it the morally responsible thing to do, but it is also practically important to increase positive image of the university and reduce the negative ones. African-Americans have a long and storied tradition in the Mountain State, including being part of the striking miners in Matewan. Everyone should feel comfortable and welcome at WVU.

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  2. I think the unanswered question posed by the racist man is an important one. It is wrong that minorities deal with such ignorance in 2016. But we can’t expect those types of people to just disappear because they are usually raised/socialized that way. Not only should we not forget about the history, we should also use it to explain to people who grew up racist the plight of African-Americans. Change starts with educating people and creating bridges. I’ve met people who never met a black person until they came to college – that’s crazy to me, but also makes sense why they’re so ignorant. This doesn’t excuse their behavior in any way. But understanding where they are coming from and using intellectual debate to expand their minds is the only way to “talk to old white guys like (him) about…racism,” rather than saying “You’re just an asshole and you’re wrong.” (even if that is true)

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  3. Change is exactly what we need when you are talking about racism and inclusion. Sadly I just really do not think that people will really be able to change the mind of the “old white guys”. What we really need to do is just to talk down towards that view point and whenever you hear someone say something like “I am racist” everyone should just be like well that is obviously wrong. Just so that younger people do not hear that and think it is okay. I wish we could educate older people but in a lot of cases with say for instance people grandparents, they are just so set in their ways that they just will not change. I think we need to target and educate the younger generation to make sure that they never think racism or discrimination is alright.

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  4. Emily,
    This was a really great article! I do think it’s something that needs to be talked about, especially in West Virginia when so many people who are not from West Virginia think many of us are somewhat racist, or at least quick to judge! I think the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion has done some great things on WVU’s campus to make us all more accepting and open people, but there are definitely things we still need to work on. I really loved the use of the quote at the end from the “racist.” It is a harsh truth, but something that needs to be understood to make a difference.

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  5. I agree with you guys. It is hard to change people. WVU has really don’t some great things to the campus and with those difficult conversations I think that is just one step closer to being better. A safe and open place for people to talk about those types of topics I think is really important and should be something everyone has to go to at least once.

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  6. Unfortunately, racist are always going to exist. I think that it’s a great idea to focus on them to try to change their way of thinking but I think what’s more important is to educate the masses so peaceful, loving, accepting people outnumber racist and I think this goes way beyond race. People just need to accept others for what and who they are. Period. I love the West Virginia University holds events like this that address race, especially since WVU is a predominantly white school and talking about race tends to make people uncomfortable for some reason. I think that events like this lets others know that WVU is aware of what’s going on and they are taking steps in educating others about race and race relations. This was a great piece and well written!

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