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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

UR Facing Race

A group of students from the University of Richmond, led by Jean-Pierre Laurenceau-Medina were among the attendees of the recent Facing Race conference in Baltimore.

Here are some excerpts of their reflections:

Julie Bravo:
"One of the key concepts of the conference was defining racial justice. Many have thought of racial justice as justification for revenge on the oppressive systems and individuals that have maintained racism. Rinku Sen, our opening speaker, advised that we, “Do not confuse justice for revenge, we must redefine justice to make real change.” If we go about trying to solve the problem with the wrong solution we are not going to get anywhere. It is therefore necessary to clarify what it is we strive for keeping in mind the diversity of our people in order to ensure every one’s individual need is met...
...The solution has been here all along. The bible says, “ante los ojos de Dios no hay uno mejor que otro- there is no superior race, everyone is equal. Love thy neighbor, Jesus teaches us and treat others as you want to be treated. “In the end LOVE is the answer, Love= Liberation”- said one of the speakers at one of the workshops. We must set aside our differences, stop running authenticity checks (trying to prove that one is more American- more human than the other) and learn to love every group as much as we love our own- we need to help each other out."

Khatira Darvesh:
"Walking into the hotel and seeing so many people both young and old, men and women of different races, ethnicities and backgrounds all of a sudden made me very nostalgic for my high school. I went to a very diverse high school so it was not a piece of cake adjusting to life on campus at University of Richmond. But with the help from OMA and my Pre-O friends I found my own space on campus. I got used to the life on campus and forgot about my high school until I was sitting in a huge room with 1600 people who at some point in their lives had to struggle with the same issues that I have, people who would understand why I am attending a conference about fighting racism; because isn’t racism over? Didn’t we win the Civil War? Don’t we have the right to vote? Shouldn’t we stop talking about race now? 
The answer is NO. We might have legal rights but race is still a definite issue even today just by the fact that most people think of race as everything else but white. When we talk about race we never talk about the predominant white race. When we talk about diversity or culture no one talks about it."

Raul Luna:
"There was also a film series in which different documentaries were being shown throughout both days of the conference, and as a film studies major I decided to check them out. The first documentary I saw was Harvest of Empire which investigates American involvement in Latin American countries throughout the past century and how those involvements have led to massive amounts of immigrants coming here from those countries. Both my parents are immigrants from Latin America, and this film really helped me understand why they among millions of other people decided to leave their countries to find a better life here."

Kim Laney:
"At the Facing Race conference, I attended sessions that focused more on the intersections of race with other competing identities. I went to a session that discussed the dual burden of the LGBTQ identity, which is not something that I can personally relate to. However, it was amazing to hear their experiences with their dual identities. The person who I found to be most interesting was a half-Chinese, half- white panelist who identified as transgender. I thought it was so brave of them to come out to their Chinese side of the family, who ended up being less than accepting. If I identified as LGBTQ, I highly doubt that I would ever come out to the Asian side of the family, so I thought it was wonderful that they found the strength to do so. Though the outcome wasn’t the best, it means a lot to me that they had this courage, and still had a strong support system of loving friends. I also met a Filipino man who identified as gay, and we discussed the difficulties of living up to the standards of many Asian families as an LGBTQ person. He directed me to the “BasicRights” Youtube channel, which interviewed families of many different ethnic backgrounds. I watched all of them, and was especially pleased by the inclusion of the Native American families. It’s with the simple resources and connections I ended up gaining that I am so thankful for these conferences!"

Loubna El Bar:
"‘Facing Race’ made me realize that racial injustice hasn’t been eliminated....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."

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By Their Strange Fruit by Katelin H is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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