February is the official month of Rethinking Race: Black, White and Beyond. This month, experience and share a wide variety of different perspectives by participating in an array of activities ranging from films, speakers, and live performances.
There is also set up discussions called Face-2-Face (F2F) where conversations are shared about racial conflicts. This forum is for all, faculty, students, teachers, and members of the community to hear and listen. This is a great opportunity as a student here at UA to really spread awareness and information about very real and complex racial conflicts in everyday life.
Lee Gill, the UA associate vice president for inclusion, equity and chief diversity officer said, “We hope that by discussing and examining different perspectives on race in an open, casual environment, we will get participants to move outside of their comfort zones and move beyond tired, old stereotypes, toward justice, reconciliation and redemption.”
The University of Akron does a wonderful job dedicating an entire week of activities and discussions to get across to students the importance of being open minded and better understanding of the unique individuals within our campus community and beyond.
For many students, recalling your first day of college feels like it was yesterday. For me, I can only remember one moment in particular at this time. It was very sudden, but very real, and had gotten me really rallied up. One day as I was walking back to my residence hall here at UA, I somehow heard over my headphones: “go back to your home country!” Startled, I scurried to my dorm room, trying to prevent myself from crying in public. Bearing in mind, that I am a U.S. citizen, born and raised in Ohio, known for having a “Cleveland accent,” I could not believe that somebody, a stranger, who perhaps thought that this was just a joke, would be so profound to me. Once I had seen the look in the boy’s face when he had seen my facial expression, I couldn’t help but make judgement over any other male in a truck that I had seen on campus, for awhile.
After having been a student for two years now here at UA, I have come to truly appreciate the Rethinking Race race week. This has helped resolve prejudices and stereotypes that can be resolved with communication and the Rethinking Race platform. Plus, college is a great time to really dive into diversity, learn about others, and experience different cultures. It is a time when you can meet foreign exchange students, foreign athletes, and even students who are from Ohio and have a special and unique cultural background.
Every student at this university comes from all different areas of life and has a story to bring to the table. People really should embrace where they are from and treat other people’s differences as gifts to our society.