Discussion targets racism

Stereotyping and disagreement on cultural norms are obstacles still prevalent in society, presenters said at a cultural talk Thursday.

"My hope is that… those in attendance will be more likely to challenge their own prejudices, stereotypes and values in a way that will allow them to interact more with others who hold different beliefs, look different or have different world views," said Jaime Cohen, a Counseling and Psychological Services postdoctoral fellow.

The sixth annual Cross Cultural Dialogues brought UH students, faculty, staff and administrators together to openly discuss racism and cultural intolerance as societal problems. Cohen, a CAPS organizer, helped plan the event with the Council of Ethnic Organizations. He said students and faculty could bridge the generational gap between them and face their own cultural biases.

"I hope by observing the difficult but successful discussions during the dialogues the audience would feel inspired and hopeful to attempt similar discussions and connections on an individual level," Cohen said.

Beverly McPhail, director of the Women’s Resource Center, said "silent racism" is as damaging as openly racial acts or remarks.

"Most people are not extremists when it comes to racism, so they may believe that they are not racist," McPhail said. "Covert racism that occurs does not stem from hatred of people from another culture, but out of ignorance."

McPhail said white citizens often don’t experience daily difficulties that other ethnicities encounter.

"Ask a white person if they’re proud of being white, and you will most likely make them very uncomfortable," Sue said. "We need to address the topic of white privilege because it is a real issue in our society."

To combat racial discrimination and examine "white privilege," McPhail said society needs to openly admit that skin color affects how people perceive others.

"In order to resolve the issues that surround racism, we need to talk about it," McPhail said. "If we aren’t discussing it, we are perpetuating it."

Leave a Comment