Shawn Fredericks | Staff Writer
Interracial relations. Too often these words are used in a black and white context. More specifically, the idea of interracial relationships usually concern group relations between white people and black people.
This needs to be said: diversity shouldn’t be treated as a “white only” ice cream shop where white people show up to fill their cone with different flavors of “diverse” experiences and go on with their afternoon. How about tearing down that ice cream shop and appreciating diversity for what it is really about—sharing cultures and experiences between all people. Not just white people.
Diversity should never be centered on white people.
We have a racial problem in America, but it goes deeper than black vs white; there’s also the tension of black vs brown. I believe diversity focuses too much on building good relationships between black people and white people. There are more people of color who live in this world than white people. So black people, we need to start building better relationships across racial lines that are non-white like ourselves.
Unfortunately, diversity in higher education, especially at institutions such as NC State, has a tendency to focus on fostering good relationships between white people and black people. They often center racial diversity and harmony on a black and white spectrum or paradigm. Like many diversity initiatives, this has the consequence of centering on white people’s experiences. This means that other goals of diversity are lost, like fostering relationships between black and brown people.
As people of color, we are bonded because of our experiences of oppression under white supremacy. It would be easy to use this idea as a basis of our connection. However, a bond between Black people and non-black Hispanic people, Asian people, as well as all other people of non-white descent, should be built on love and a shared appreciation for our respective cultures, traditions and pride.
People of color all have beautiful cultures and beliefs that we should celebrate. One of NC State’s professed values is diversity, so if the Wolfpack wants to foster an environment of inclusiveness and diversity, then the focus cannot be on white people. White students cannot be the focus of inclusive initiatives. More focus should be placed upon building community between communities of color across the ethnic, racial and cultural spectrum.
As people of color, we have to take care of each other. That doesn’t mean we can’t have pride for our own respective groups. It means we see value in each other, which is something we need to start seeing in the white supremacist reality of Trump’s America.
On this campus, we have boundless opportunities to start building a more connected community through programs hosted by the Multicultural Student Affairs. There are also different affinity groups who hold events that we should all support, like Asia Night, Somos, Native American Student Association’s culture night, as well as programming during their respective heritage months.
I’d like to see more black faces show up to these events. However, I also want to see more non-white people show up for black events, such as Kwanzaa, Harambee!, and Pan-Afrikan Week.
All people of color have beautiful things about their cultures that should be shared. It shouldn’t be a huge thing to see non-black Hispanic people in spaces like the African American Cultural center. I’d personally appreciate more non-white women in these spaces. I want to see improved black and brown relations.
As the non-white NC State community, we have to be more intentional of showing up for each other. However, a word of caution that does not mean we should take over each other spaces. Just show up in support of one another.