Essay on Diversity, Part III: Reflection

This final section is an analysis of the previous two, and a final personal reflection on the event.

 

Part 3: Reflection

 

The controversial “Affirmative Action” seems, based on these articles as evidence and the demand for diversity by groups represented at the Price Town Hall Meeting, to be an acceptable solution to the problem of a lack of diversity on campus, but it can only go so far. It is our job, each one, as students at the University and as citizens of our respective areas to reach out to those who are different to make them feel welcome and unified with the group as a whole. It only takes a few to be the connectors and reach out to those who feel like outsiders.

 

It is also necessary for not just a few of us to be able to listen and understand others and the problems they face from day to day. Something I really picked up from the Town Hall Meeting is that we often need to just take a break and come together as a community to discuss, tell, and listen. Events like the Town Hall meeting encourage people to speak out in a safe and accepting environment.The only way some problems become known, such as those many revealed in the meeting, is by being outright stated by those experiencing them. Something our society generally lacks is a willingness to discuss and reason out our problems with one another, at least as I have seen it. Instead of addressing issues, we sweep them aside to be dealt with when something bursts like the SAE video, and only then do we come out and start talking about our problems together. A problem that arises that I think is essential to understanding discrimination against Native Americans specifically on campus and in broader society is that an underrepresentation of Native Americans or an isolation from broader society disallows their opinions to be heard. A byproduct of this becomes a presumed understanding of their culture without basis and a subsequent misinterpretation of how these people are able to interact with the rest of society.

 

It is, on the other hand, just as important, if not more so, to be open to the words of those speaking and to try to understand them from their viewpoint. The personal relationships built with people of diversity logically always outweigh a few passing acquaintances, and helps to not just have a wide variety of viewpoints and methods of discourse and problem-solving, but also to have a deep and broad understanding of the ways others think, in order that we might think in that way ourselves.

 

It really struck me when I heard our Native American Students speak. I always thought there was something fishy about our calling ourselves the “Sooners,” that is, the cheaters who ran before those who played by the rules and claimed the land with the “boom.” But this view was entirely exclusive of the Native Americans who had been here for god-knows-how-long before any of this had been conceived, and I never would have noticed this had I not had it pointed specifically out to me. This viewpoint I had never considered ended up radically altering my view of the university, its culture, and the history surrounding the position we are all in today. There is so much I will never know and could never come close to understanding about the way we live in this world together, but it is just this that we have to try to do.

 

It surprises me to find out things like this. I know it shouldn’t, but every time I discover a new side of an issue, it does surprise me. Little bits of racism like this happen all around us, all day, every day in the people with whom we interact. And no one ever notices until it’s been pointed out. I think it is vitally important, therefore, to keep looking for problems to fix, little by little. The more we broaden our understanding of those around us, the better off we all become. One thing I can say for sure: for better or for worse, I’ll think twice before responding to a shout of “Boomer!”

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