Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Living the Dream - making a difference

The following contains reflections from a student Multicultural Ambassador after attending the Office of Diversity and Inclusion monthly Diversity Luncheon.

Today the office of Diversity and Inclusion held a luncheon to discuss Martin Luther King Jr. and his efforts in promoting tolerance. The luncheon drew a pretty decent sized crowd, everyone was there on their own accord and not because a teacher was giving them extra credit. That gives me hope because that says to me that people really do want change on this campus.

Dr. Helvie-Mason opened the discussion by posing what seemed to be a pretty simple question. She asked " How many of you have ever listened to Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech in it entirety?" There was silence in the crowd and then slowly students and faculty began to raise their hands, once hands we were raised we could see that about 75% of the room had heard it.  She then asked if anyone had ever listened to any of his other speeches and the numbers dropped to about 5%.  Then Dr. Helvie-Mason went on to pose questions like: "What is your dream?" and "What does it mean to live that dream?"

As we thought, Dr. Helvie-Mason then asked a question that I found even hard to answer myself, she asked " How many of you have a goal that drives your life and what is it?" Does not sound so hard until you begin to actually think about it. I would like to raise my hand right away and be like "Yeah, I  have a goal that drives me" - but when actually asked what it is, it becomes complicated.  The room was silent until a student, Xandrea, raised her hand and answered that question, "Fear of failure, I am afraid to fail so it drives me to do better." We all nodded in agreement because when you think about it, I think on some level we all have a fear of failure, we all want to do well.

Dr. Helvie-Mason then moved on and began talking about peace and how all things, including communication, should begin and end with peace. She then moved on to the "triple evils" that Dr. King used to talk about. They are, poverty, racism and militarism.  Those three things impacted lives then and they still effect our lives now whether we want to admit it or not. After discussing those three things Dr. Helvie-Mason posed a question asking us in our time at Tarleton have we ever experienced a situation where we were judged or knew someone was judged for something other than their character. One student said that she overheard students talking and saying that a kid would do good in math just because he was Asian. Many of us had similar stories. I find that in society people make those assumptions and I am not perfect because I can say that I have done it on occasion. Another student stated that his girlfriend gets judged for her piercings, people think less of her because of them.

A short part of Dr. King's speech was played, we then as a group discussed what we heard and saw in that video clip. We discussed how Dr. King said this was going to be a great speech and how he kept reiterating poverty.  Then we were asked how poverty ties into racism and militarism?  One student said Education, that those that have do not quite understand what its like not to have.  Another student stated that those in poverty are looked at like they have no power.  Dr. Helvie-Mason then said " If you do not have time and you do not have money can you still serve?" We said yes, you can get an education and be educated and share what you know.

It then turned into open discussion, one women stated she raised not see see color just people and that was her goal when raising her children. Children will act how you teach them, you teach them to see people they will see people not a color. One student stated how she did not understand how people could still be so closed minded. We discussed that in certain situations parents guide a lot of our decisions, which means they guide how we think.  One student stated that he used to let his mom guide his decisions but he realized that you have to break that cycle and create your own cycle because you are your own person.

We as a student body need to stand up and commit to destroying one of the Triple Evils. For instance one student said she was going to spread awareness about racism, not only at school but in her own home. We need to inform an educate. We've all heard negative comments and had negative experiences. Such comments are why these diversity luncheons are so important. We need to take a stand and show that Tarleton State does promote diversity and free thinking. I learned a lot from this luncheon and I myself will commit to help make a change whether it be on campus or back home.

~ Multicultural Ambassador SB

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