Graduating from a high school where the minority rate was the majority, I’ve always had the assumption that everyone supported equality and that if someone appeared to be racist, it was unintentional. How someone could find it morally acceptable to discriminate based on race, gender, or ethnicity was difficult to grasp and has taken me a while to accept through my own experiences.
‘Facing Race’ made me realize that racial injustice hasn’t been eliminated. It’s still here, but in a form that appears to favor the minority; like ‘they’re doing us a favor’. This manipulation allows us to settle for what seems like the ‘better end of the deal’. Despite the amendments made in the Constitution, the lives lost for freedom and equal rights, the movements that united the people for a common cause, we are still fighting the same battle that previous generations fought to settle.
Several of the smaller sessions that I attended relied on discussion among the attendees. Talking to other individuals, I discovered that I was one of the few who was still working on an undergraduate. I met several accomplished ambassadors from different activist organizations who all sent me home with one message: start early and keep moving forward. During one of the sessions, I met a representative from People For the American Way Foundation. We talked about the problems that campuses are facing recently and she mentioned a fellowship program that was offered to young adults. Talking to her was very enlightening because she cared about what the younger generations had to say about today’s problems in society.
The terms ‘diversity’ and ‘equity’ were clearly defined in the first breakout session that I attended: Changing the Conversation on Race. Milly Hawk Daniel from PolicyLink said that there is a difference between the two, one that has kept the minorities and supports of racial justice back for years. Diversity he says, “is getting the people in the room, while equity is what people are doing once they’re in the room”. In essence, gathering a group of minorities and whites together is not enough; that is only the beginning. One needs to take the extra step, make a difference, and be a part of the betterment of society.
Another session that caught my attention was SUJG: Strategies for Engaging White People in Racial Justice. I chose this session because I believe minorities alone aren’t enough to win the fight against racial injustice; white people need to be on board so that we could strengthen the cause. Whites will effectively essentially listen to their own people; so why not use the white supremacy to our advantage. When I walked in the session, I noticed that the number of white males was lacking. The session included actions that need to be taken to get the white individual involved in the movement.
Overall, Facing Race was the motivation and reassurance that I needed to pursue my educational career and future endeavors. There were people from all walks of life, all trying to answer their questions and concerns on how to face the racial injustice that has crept along throughout the years without being recognized as such. This was a wonderful experience and hope that more people have the opportunity to attend the ‘Facing Race’ conference. Specials thanks to all who made this possible!