Forum brings light to racism in modern America

Slide show presents images of Ku Klux Klan from past, present.

A slide show of pictures of acts of racism that occurred over the years flashed across the screen. Ku Klux Klan rallies, black protesters being sprayed with water and fraternity brothers in black face paint and nooses around their necks, some in Klan uniform, were displayed for all to see.

The slide show preceded a forum on race relations in Student Center Cardinal Hall Thursday, hosted by Student Organizations and Activities as part of the MLK Unity week of events.

The panel consisted of students, faculty and staff, and topics ranged from being in minority situations to whether events such as those at the University of Mississippi and Auburn University can happen, has happened or are happening at Ball State.

"It makes me sick that people of our generation are still doing this," said junior Kevin Olsen in reference to the slide show. "It reminds me of how much work we have to do."

Derick Virgil, director of the Multicultural Center, said the pictures were signs of ignorance. They do not directly deal with one's education on a particular subject, he said.

"Ignorance deals with not knowledge, but wisdom," he said. "Knowledge is consisting of facts, and wisdom is what you do with those facts."

When the topic of the status of race relations came up, junior Christal Butler said she did not see much change happening.

"I don't see people getting better," she said. "I see people getting bolder about their racism. I don't see it changing dramatically."

Michael Stevenson, director of the Diversity Policy Institute and a psychology professor at Ball State, said there are changes that can make curriculum more diverse.

"I think from the academic side of things, there are some things we can do better," he said.

After the panel answered predetermined questions, the students in the audience were allowed to ask questions of their own. Junior Sam Phomsavanh said that while she enjoyed the discussion, the panel did not expand enough on the different races.

"It mostly singled out African-Americans," she said. "Other races and other points of view should have been brought up. I feel other minorities should have been represented.

"I think it was a good thing to discuss, but it doesn't help that the panel consisted of only black and white faculty and students."

Junior Richard McClelland said the forum addressed a lot of issues, but in order for there to be change, he said, the issues have to be addressed on a larger scale, with more seminars and inclusion in the school curriculum.

"As a whole, Ball State as well as the United States have a long way to go (accomplishing) King's dream of unity," he said. "In order for something to take effect here, it has to be addressed to the entire campus, and it's not going to happen overnight."


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