Campus racism: How to start the conversation
Seattle is known to be a relatively liberal city, but does that mean there isn’t an issue with racism? Author Lawrence Ross gave a workshop and lecture titled “Know Better/Do Better” last Thursday and explained that there is no time for “fluff” in difficult issues such as this.
The workshop, which was organized by the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity and the Race & Equity Initiative, was aimed at faculty members. It was a practical, interactive workshop based around working with people “you wouldn’t feel comfortable inviting to dinner yet” to come up with applicable solutions to campus racism.
Some of the key issues included lack of representation of minority groups on campus, lack of accountability for perpetrators, and the assumption that there is not a problem at the UW because it’s in an accepting city. Often people adopt the childish stance, consciously or not, that if they can’t see it, it doesn’t exist.
“Campus racism is not news,” Ross said. “Minority students deal with daily stereotypes everywhere.”
This sentiment was echoed by members of UW Greek life, who coordinated Ross’ appearance and lecture at the UW.
“The UW does have a lot of work that needs to be done, it does have a lot of implicit biases, there’s a lot of underlying racist comments that do happen for many students,” Khyree Watson of the National Panhellenic Council (NPHC) said.
The open access lecture was coordinated by students from the NPHC, the UW’sPanhellenic Association and the United Greek Council (UGC) with partnership from the ASUW. The aim was to raise awareness and to get students talking about a polarizing subject, with an end goal to provide a safe space for varied demographics to have the conversation about racism.
“It’s really important to try to find that common ground where we can really include and start working together and utilize our different connections, in a sense to build the UW community,” D’andre Garcia-Stubbs of the NPHC said.
The Greek community at the UW was keen to get involved in something as poignant and topical as racism to help to curb preconceived perceptions of fraternities and sororities by the media.
“There’s always been tension around the Greek community,” Wendy Wang of the UGC said. “It stems from what we think people in the Greek community should look like, and this created the notion of, ‘I don’t belong here.’ It’s very important to learn about people of color to create better understanding.”