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The majority’s role

Edithstein Cho | Sunday, December 4, 2011

We throw around the term “majority” and “minority” everywhere.

In any case in which we can use the term “majority,” we are implying there is a minority. This applies to spheres of race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, ability, religion, national origin, age, etc.

Let’s focus on race. Notre Dame’s undergraduate student body is 72 percent white — no new facts here. You are in the majority if you fall into the white category. If you count in this majority, it can feel as if the invitation from any minority group doesn’t apply to you. It may even seem much less than welcoming to you.

I don’t blame you for feeling left out sometimes. Notre Dame’s environment makes me feel self-conscious about how I fit into my “race” as a minority student. Interestingly, I found out that this doesn’t only apply to me and other minority students.

Many of my white friends repeatedly express similar sentiments. My white friends who belong to diverse settings back home especially find the “race” landscape to be much more exclusive at Notre Dame. One friend specifically worded it like this: Taking part in a minority’s event at Notre Dame feels like trying to be overly politically correct.

These sentiments showcase why diversity is a discussion that must be taken up both by the minority and majority. They also confirm that we have a lot of work to do.

So far, Notre Dame has made many great efforts to bring diversity to the discussion. Many passionate students, staff and community members come together for the Practicum in Diversity Education to train upperclassmen for freshmen’s Contemporary Topic’s Diversity Day. Multicultural Student Programs and Services also have great support systems for the student clubs concerning diversity. Difficulties arise in trying to balance providing support for minorities while facilitating the relationship between the majority and minority. Despite the existing programs, we have more to do.

We cannot afford to forgo revealing the actual dynamics that underlay the minority-majority dialogue. The first step to any problem solving should be gauging the starting point.

“Show Some Skin: The Race Monologues” formed itself on exactly this as its base; they want to start from scratch. It’s a brand new project sponsored by the Student Government and the Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement (CUSE). The production “aims to provide a platform for sharing experiences on ethnicity and race to enhance our ongoing conversation on diversity in the Notre Dame community.”

They want to hear from every angle on “race.” Everyone has something to say about race, whether or not you’re in a majority or a minority. You may be someone who thinks race doesn’t influence your life at all. You may think race carves out a different space for you in society. You may feel that you don’t fall into society’s racial categories. However you feel, there is a story underneath it.

Imagine reliving those moments that made you think about race and put it down on paper. Help us to get into your shoes by describing that moment with your five senses, then share your story with “Show Some Skin: The Race Monologues.”

The event team is collecting anonymous submissions at s.someskin@gmail.com and at Dr. Lucero’s office in 232 Geddes Hall until Jan. 31, 2012.

The collected submissions can be up to 500 words. The donated stories will become the production’s property and may be reproduced through performance, publication or other media.

“Show Some Skin: The Race Monologues” will take place in March of 2012. Auditions for story readers (performers) will be held in early February. Those interested in auditioning can email the team at racemonologue@gmail.com

Whatever you think, The Race Monologues team wants to hear from you.

“You” not only implies the minority, but also the majority. Participation from the majority cannot be foregone. What’s your story? Show us some of your skin, no matter what color it is.

Edithstein Cho can be reached at echo1@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.