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Students discuss diversity and ‘colorblindness’

| Monday, February 1, 2016

The Saint Mary’s Justice Education program hosted a panel of students who discussed the importance of recognizing diversity in our everyday lives and the media as part of the Justice Friday series. 

The conversation was led by seniors Taylr Davis and Courtney Lamar, junior Caylin McCallick and sophomore Alex Shambery.

Lamar explained there are a lot of aspects that makeup the concept of diversity.

“Diversity includes all aspects [of a person] whether that’s race, gender, socioeconomic status, sexual preference, et cetera.”

When asked about the validity of the term “colorblind,” Davis said that concept can be misconstrued to promote hatred.

“I truly believe that if you teach people that seeing others is not about the color of your skin then yes, people can use the idea of being ‘colorblind,’” Davis said. “However, many people use it as a crutch … They use it to say, ‘Oh, I don’t see color’ but then they go off and do something racist so I feel like it doesn’t have an equal proponent.”

Lamar said in order to progress as a community, the recognition of diversity is a necessity.

“You have to acknowledge that someone is different than you to move forward. To get all the best perspectives, you have to acknowledge diversity and that you come from different backgrounds and have different experiences.”

Shambery noted how important it is to see people as who they are, rather than labeling them by the color of their skin.

“Yes, I‘m black, but just because I’m black no one should assume they know me, what I stand for or what I’ve been through just by looking at my skin tone,” She said. “I think that’s something that’s very important to think about when we talk about whether or not we believe in the idea of being colorblind.” 

Shambery explained how valuable having a diverse group of friends can be.

“It’s amazing; it’s one of the best things in the world having best friends who are [different than] me,” she said. “I can’t imagine having only friends who are exactly like me, who come from the exact same background as me and like the exact same things that I do. That would be extremely boring and how can you grow when people are exactly like you?”

McCallick said people benefit from both their personal and professional lives by engaging with diverse groups of people.

“Groups that are diverse [explore] more avenues because people are coming from all these different intersections in their lives and are seeing things from different perspectives, which allows a group to solve more problems and think more creatively.”

The panel also focused on the influence media has in perpetuating white culture as the norm.

“I don’t watch TV often, but when I do I’m constantly appalled by the abundance of all white commercials,” Shambery said.“ I rarely see people of color. I rarely see interracial couples. I rarely see queer couples. I rarely see Muslims or Jews or disabled people. I rarely see commercials of poor black kids in America. I rarely see reports of Hispanic, of Black kids going missing.”

Lamar also commented on how important it is to normalize diversity in the media

“Seeing underrepresented people in the media shouldn’t be shocking … movies shouldn’t focus on stereotypical struggles of [black people], that creates a stigma about it.”

Lamar said there is hope for the future and she has already seen some positive examples of diversity in modern media.

“I see good influences with the Buzzfeed and Facebook videos and their incorporation of different types of people into their videos,” she said. “These videos relate to our generation, are very popular and can influence our generation into becoming more diverse and open.”

The Justice Friday series takes place every Friday from 12:10-12:50 p.m. in the Student Center.

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