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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Guest Commentary

Guest Editorial: Stopping the cycle of racism

Feb. 18, 2014, marked another court case that dominated the news and left many Americans divided on the concept of race. As a student at the second most diverse campus in the nation, I always see faces of all different colors and ethnicities.

I believe diversity should be celebrated in all aspects regardless of color, race, sex, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender. We live in a country that values equality and freedom, and this has taught us to appreciate each other’s differences, which is why the Jordan Davis case was appalling and tragic.

Referred to as the “Loud Music Case” by the media, a white male, Michael Dunn, approached a car with five young males and asked the teens to turn off what Dunn has been known to refer to as “thug music” and “rap crap.”

When the teens refused, the situation escalated. Shots were fired, and 17-year-old Jordan Davis was killed. Michael Dunn was arrested, and a trial followed.

Evidence supported the teens’ accounts that Dunn fired shots into the back of the vehicle and the teens attempted to escape the bullets.

Michael Dunn was convicted of four counts of attempted murder, but they did not convict him for the murder of Jordan Davis.

Florida’s “stand your ground” laws, which Texas also has, left the jury unable to definitively convict Dunn of murder.

Racism in America is not old news. Children learn from their environment, their family and peers about stereotypes, discrimination and racism.

The pigeonholing and disentrancement of black youth, especially males, as “thugs” or “criminals” originates from a fear of the unknown and historical oppression. People classify strangers or those who don’t look the same into categories because they’re afraid for a variety of reasons, but ultimately this fear may stem from prejudicial beliefs that were learned. It is an ongoing cycle that will continue unless we consciously make an effort to question our biases.

I am not an exception to this case. When my parents immigrated to America, their environment taught them the same prejudicial values, which I despise. These thoughts and beliefs that I grew up with are ingrained in my behavior and way of thinking.

What sets me apart is that I recognize my biases and strive to eliminate them. One of the ways I do this is by engaging with a variety of cultures through the Council of Ethnic Organizations (CEO) here at the University of Houston. By working and learning from UH’s diverse community, I have become more apt to appreciate others’ individualism and actively work to be inclusive of everyone.

From noon to 7 p.m. on March 4th CEO will be hosting Carnaval of Cultures at Lynn Eusan Park. CEO will be showcasing a variety of cultures from around the world to let students at UH meet their fellow peers and enjoy foods and performances from organizations on campus.

CEO expands the definition of diversity by providing fun and free opportunities for students to learn about other cultures, so students can foster a sense of appreciation of others and dismantle fear.

When I interviewed for the assistant director position with CEO, I was asked how I defined diversity. My response was that I believe diversity will someday mean we no longer have to speak about diversity.

In a truly diverse world, everyone would be accepting of each other and understand that our differences are what make us unique individuals.

Prejudices and biases would be replaced with the intrinsic thought that we are all part of one group, the human race. I hope you endeavor to make diversity a reality by questioning your personal biases and striving to eliminate them through exposure and self-education.

At CEO’s Carnaval of Cultures, students will be able to learn about the vast diversities on campus and begin, if they have not already, celebrating the overarching diversity that is UH.

Assistant director of CEO Jessica Luong is an accounting and management and information systems senior and may be reached at [email protected].

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