Campus / News / March 6, 2008

Race discussion continues at ABLE

The race relations discussion Tuesday night at the ABLE house covered everything from what the campus can do to combat racism to whether or not black people really are naturally better at sports.

“My whole point of this meeting was to reach a directed goal towards knowledge and information,” said ABLE president and senior Tiffany Bradley, as she drew plans on the white board behind her.

“Spring term, I want to rent out Kresge and have a faculty and student panel discussing race relations here at Knox,” she said.

Bradley plans on first conducting a student survey to target any misconceptions and issues regarding race across campus, such as teachers targeting black students to talk about race issues and white students who believe they cannot join ABLE due to their race. They will then address these issues in the public forum.

“We are not going to solve all problems on campus, but at least people can’t say they don’t know,” said Bradley.

However, there was disagreement as to whether or not open discussion would help.

“I personally would like to sit down and talk to him, because at the end of the day, all I can wonder is, why,” said Bradley, discussing her feelings about the columnist.

Others felt open discussion with people holding racist thoughts or values would be a waste of time.

“A racist mind will never change,” said sophomore Shanna Collins.

Most others at the event disagreed, although there was sentiment that those who hold racist thoughts and tendencies would not show up to a group discussion about racism.

“The students who I’ve had racist interactions with didn’t come to this meeting- those are the kids who we really need to reach out to,” said sophomore Maurice McDavid.

Others discussed that although recent race relations discussions have been well attended, those in the past have not been. Attendees discussed other ways to communicate with the campus, including ideas such as street theatre and an ABLE mural.

Bradley also discussed the misconception that only black students can join ABLE, a misconception due in part to ABLE standing for “Allied Blacks for Liberal Equality.”

Although there has been discussion of changing the name, Bradley explained the founders of the club had fought hard for their right to have it and changing its original name would be disrespectful.

“We have members of all races. (ABLE) is a warm, welcome environment. Everyone can come in and have tea, coffee, snacks, whatever they want,” said Bradley.

She added that people of other races should not be afraid to ask questions to her and other members about race; they should only be afraid of asking those questions in a derogatory way.

Other topics brought up were the Flunk Day TKS issue, the difference between yelling at someone and helping them understand, and whether or not black people really are naturally better at basketball

Attendees answered the last question by a resounding “no.”

“There are reasons why black kids grow up playing basketball and they aren’t biological,” said Wendel Hunigan, lecturer of Anthropology/Sociology.

Others noted the availability and cheapness of the sport were more valid reasons for black involvement in basketball than biology.

Bradley agreed saying this debunks a falsehood of the column, which implied slave owner’s had successfully bred slaves to be strong and hardworking, weaning out those who were genetically inferior.

She said even with a tall father who carries both the dominant and recessive gene for tallness, and a tall mother who carries a dominant gene for tallness, their child would have only a 50 percent chance of being very tall. It would be almost impossible for all weakness in a race to be “weaned out.”

Books on race relations

(Recommended by Tiffany Bradley and Shanna Collins.)

Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paolo Freire

Hip Hop Generation by Bakari Kitwana

Malcolm X Speaks by Malcolm X

Women, Culture, Politics by Angela Davis

We Real Cool by bell hooks

The Cost of Privilege: Taking on White Supremacy and Racism by Chip Smith

Christy Reuter

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