QuiAnne’ Holmes | Staff Writer
Last week, NC State hosted its annual Diversity Education Week. The week serves to promote awareness and understanding diverse cultures of the nation and world’s and to foster intercultural understanding through a collection of engaging programs.
The Black Students Board, BSB of the Union Activities Board hosted an event called More Than Melanin on Wednesday, Oct. 14, at in the Witherspoon Student Cinema.
“More than Melanin was intended to teach people about how their identities play into the way that they are treated in society and work together to form a complex human being with complex experiences,” said BSB Chairperson Tsharre Sanders, a senior majoring in psychology with minors in Africana Studies and Spanish.
Each attendee received a playing card with different numbers during an activity called Face Value. They were instructed to walk around with a playing card on their forehead and treat one another according to the value of the other student’s card. The cards said to avoid eye contact with those who had two to five, smile at those who had seven to 10, and acknowledge with smiles and conversation to those of a suit higher than 10.
“We aimed to make sure that it was interactive, enjoyable and informational at the same time,” Sanders said.
Some volunteered their answers about what they experienced and the common realization was that often times we treat people that we think are of higher value with more respect than those who we rank lower.
The event created an environment where students could think about identity in depth and openly. Students conversed with one another about what they noticed, how they felt and how that translates into real life.
Dr. C. Ellen Washington, assistant director of the Women’s Center, described the world by painting a picture of “hope and possibility,” she used examples such as having the first African-American President to serve in office along with having women running in both parties of the upcoming election. However, she said just because there has been progress, problems still exist.
Washington presented the acronym, A.D.D.R.E.S.S.I.N.G (age, disabilities, desirability, religion, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, intimate relationship, nationality, and gender) Intersectionality. Each word is one particular identity in which she gave specific examples to illustrate what it may look like in everyday life.
“You do not have to change your beliefs but you need to treat each person as a human. Don’t let your perceptions let someone else suffer,” said Washington.She even used herself as an example to show how people assume that just because she is a tall athletic looking African-American female that she has to play a sport.
Washington said everyday misconceptions can be attributed to the term intersectionality and said that it allows people to understand how the perception of belonging to a group can lead to unfair treatment. She challenged the audience by asking, “Why is this inappropriate?” Biases formed against a person based off of assumptions can be linked to identities that we may or may not identify with.