Students should openly talk about race without fear
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) August 15, 2016
Racial tension in the U.S. isn’t a new subject, nor one that will ever go away, but the topic of race has become taboo among students and the new generation.
During my time at UH, I’ve come across my fair share of awkward, cringe-worthy conversations surrounding Black Lives Matter and racial sensitivity. In fact, I would be the first to steer the discussion into something less heavy.
However, the fact that I, a black woman, squirm at the very mention of skin color is not a good thing.
With the emergence of BLM and the nation’s love/hate relationship with immigration, bringing up race in dialogue is like throwing down a gauntlet.
Considering the history of the U.S., none of this should really come as a surprise. Americans have never been coy about dredging up past issues, and some, namely the older generation, feel more strongly about how things ought to go back to the way they were.
As far as diversity goes, UH doesn’t have the same racial issues as other Southern universities might face.
For instance: In 2015, a University of Mississippi alumnus was sentenced to six months in federal prison after putting a noose around the statue of James Meredith, the first black student admitted to Ole Miss.
It’s clear that we still have our hurdles, but getting over them would require talking about the issues. If we can’t have an open conversation about race, it will continue being a topic people skirt around and then become outraged when someone says something deemed racist.
A perfect example of racial sensitivity cropped up recently. Ellen DeGeneres was accused of being a racist after tweeting an edited picture of her piggybacking Usain Bolt along with the caption: “This is how I’m running errands from now on.”
Everyone knows the voice of Dory isn’t a racist. If a joke about Bolt’s speed can be twisted into accusations of racism there definitely seems to be no room left to talk about race relations.
This is not to say that some people aren’t often insensitive about racism. I often hear things such as, “Slavery ended a long time ago. Why don’t blacks just get over it? The Jews did.” There’s also the slur nearly every ethnic citizen of the U.S. is familiar with, “Go back to where you belong!”
Unfortunately, these values have been passed down and, in some families, will never be eradicated.
Although I still feel uncomfortable talking about race relations with students of varying ethnicities, I’ve also had some of my best conversations about it at UH.
Each time I walk away with another bubble of assumptions freshly popped and become more open to dialogues about race.
Among the pressures that fall on the shoulders of millennials, opening pathways of communication has become one of the top priorities. UH students and non-students should be talking about race, and, more often than not, about our views of how the world should align.
To stand for racial equality, you don’t have to be ethnic. To open conversations about race, you don’t have to be black. Don’t be afraid to talk about race.
Opinion Columnist Caprice Carter is a communication junior and can be reached at [email protected]