Written by: Isaiah Smart
What a year 2013 has turned out to be.
Here we are, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave a pivotal speech in the spirit of equality for jobs and freedoms among all people. That was Aug. 28, 1963; a few weeks later another crucial moment would take place. On Sept. 18, 1963, Drewnell Thomas and Robert Pierce were the first two African-American students accepted into Valdosta State College, integrating the campus.
Our most ambiguous social construction is also one of our biggest divisions among students and citizens. It seems as though the only time we talk about race is when it comes up as an issue (e.g., the Kendrick Johnson case and the Trayvon Martin case).
I recently encouraged each of you to join on-campus organizations, now I’m asking you to diversify yourself. It seems to get harder and harder for organizations to attain diverse memberships. Contrary to popular belief—or membership—organizations drastically request diversity. As adults, young and old, we should be reaching out to the variety of people that we have here as a resource. That includes faculty and staff. There are so many people to create a network with, and we seem to fret away from the comfortable, matriarchal confines of our comfort zones. Organizations, be acceptable of new collaborations, it’s a good look and a good point for a positive reputation. No one wants to be a part of something where others say, “Yeah, they don’t work with (insert particular group).” We learn best from those who aren’t like us—those from different places.
There’s more work to be done and more weight to distribute. To my peers, the responsibility is ours to push the envelope off the edge and make sure it sails into unknown lands. We are the catalyst to change. We can’t just say we want something; we have to act like we want it. I would love to see more participation and promotion of the International Dinner and the many programs the International Department puts on. It would be nice to see more CPC and IFC collaborations with organizations. I would also love to see more of these predominately African-American organizations have members of European, Hispanic or Asian descent. It would even be nice to see more minorities in upper-level administrative positions. We preach, scream and yell “diversity” from the rooftops while everyone is looking and go back to our segregated huts when the crowd leaves. The great thing about college is the networking opportunities you have while you’re here. Why would you cheat yourself out of an opportunity to have a broad scope of opportunity that can in turn help others? I intend to make you uncomfortable enough to stir up the pot of positive action and progressive conversation. If I have, then this is just the beginning. I welcome conversation and I wish to enforce the idea that nothing will change until we do it.
What are your thoughts on race? Is it a major factor in our lives? Why or why not? Tell us your thoughts at @vsuspectator on Twitter or on our Facebook page, The Spectator.