On Having Race-Based Conversations

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 3.08.36 PMby Myliyah Hanna

Lifestyle Co-Editor

In the college environment, we take classes that extend our thinking past the high school level. We no longer engage in basic thinking and analyzing, but instead push our limits to consider the other side and to investigate why certain beliefs or ideas or constructs exist. The job of high school is to prepare us for the jump from surface level to in-depth conversation and thinking; whereas in college we can explore the topics we may not have discussed in detail in high school, race being one of those topics.

The current racial climate of the country and American society is an important topic to discuss. Of course, having this discussion and interacting with one another around these topics isn’t the easiest thing to do, but these conversations undoubtedly prove to be some of the most enriching moments one can experience in their college career. Minority students on the college campus are finding their voices and using them to talk about the political climate that surrounds them (from police brutality to Islamophobia) in an effort to increase the dialogues on racism. Minority students are taking stands for these issues because they must be addressed, and one way that this is happening is through conversations with other friends of different backgrounds.

Not everyone is going to know what you would expect. As the saying goes, common sense is not that common. Not everyone can have the proximity to fluency in the understanding of a racial identity, and it is important to inform those that may not have that proximity. Of course, some are more receptive than others, but trying goes a long way. Being able to teach someone one new thing about one’s race can help in the long run, and possibly  convince them to go to take classes or go to events that they would not attend otherwise.

By engaging in racial dialogue, we learn from one another, an important aspect that extends beyond getting good grades for a degree and, eventually, a career. It is not always easy, as some are not willing to look past the surface. Some are more reluctant to engage in these conversations because the topics or issues have not affected them, don’t outwardly seem to be problems, and can come off as minorities seeming overly sensitive about small things. When we engage in racial discourse, we are letting one another know that what may seem small actually has lasting impacts, and even if one hasn’t experienced it themselves, small microaggressions or racial tension exists nonetheless.

More importantly, racial discourse is more than just educating each other about race and issues surrounding the topic in American society, but teaching tolerance and acceptance. It’s about being able to listen to one another to not only gain information from personal experiences but to also learn to work with one another and respect one another as growing adults.