Explain why cultural diversity is important in a college education.
I come from a small town. Hannibal, MO, the boyhood home of Mark
Twain, is described its claim to fame as "a sleepy town drowsing." Most surely he
has never been more accurate, for this small enchanted river town has never
awakened total equality.
It is a town full of ignorance, where nobody has ever thought twice of
sharing and spreading their sly comments and idiotic judgements to anyone and
everyone who will listen, and most people do. It is a town where fathers, mothers,
brothers, sisters, and grandparents teach their kids to "ignore those no-good
niggers," stay away from those "half-breeds" and give hell to anyone "nigger-lover"
who refuses to believe the truth. It sickens me.
Last year, we had an issue to address at our school. It later became known as
The Cowboys vs. The Blacks, and never has our school been more involved. The
newspapers screamed of the hate, violence, and threat of gangs that were corrupting
our schools; the halls rang with the lastest gossip on the next big showdown. This
problem slapped a school full of apathetic kids into a lively bunch ready to get
involved. Involved in what? A controversy that all had opinions on, but how could
you not have an opinion? It was the talk at all of the dinner tables, bars, and stores
in town. Kids went home scared of the racial tension. Parents whined and cried of
violence in the school.
The parents whined and cried, and at the same time forgot to remember that
it was they, not the kids, who had taught the very prejudices that were "disrupting
the education process." My opinion is simple and elementary: Children are not
born to hate others, they must be taught to judge colors. If we are taught prejudices,
then obviously, the racial tensions at my school didn't disrupt education, rather
enforced lessons often reviewed over fried chicken and potatoes.
I cried once in my sophomore history class. The girl in front of me sang and
preached that life was just that way, no one could ever change anything, so why
should we even try? Prejudice is taught in the home, and the home is where we
learn everything we really need to know. I listened, fumed, and stood up to
interrupt her. (I rarely frown, let alone yell, but I had had enough of her pessimism.
All eyes and ears were on me, and as my dramatic nature began to influence me, I
started to preach.)
I have a theory. I created it. Some say I'm naive, others say I'm too hopeful,
but so far no one has told me to abandon it, so I cling to my idea and share it as
often as the issue comes up.
I have a story about my experiences. At my grandparents house, we cannot
watch Cosby without hearing a racist slur from my grandfather. Great guy, but
racially unfair. My dad grew up around jokes and hints about those 'half-breeds'
and such, but I did not. Enter my theory. Somewhere in my family, the racist
ideas were tamed, not eliminated entirely, but curtailed in such a way that I was
able to escape them. How did my father, who was conditioned at an early age to
slight those of other cultures, unlearn?
Two words: education and experience. My dad played football and studied
with people of different ethnic backgrounds. Although he was still exposed to the
beliefs at home, he was beginning to slowly form his own. Always around different
cultural backgrounds, always aware and always learning that maybe what he had
been earlier taught wasn't entirely true. Questioning all the time, wondering if
maybe they weren't so low-down and no-good.
There comes a point in all of our lifes when we simply grow up. We no
longer blindly latch on to what our parents say. We believe ourselves before we fall
victim to other influences, and we question and reteach ourselves answers we
believe correct. We evaluate and review what we have been taught, and sometimes,
if lucky, we are able to unlearn.
If my dad had never studied, sweated, and sheltered others of different ethnic
backgrounds, I would have grown up hearing as many sly jokes and racist
comments that he did. I would not, however, repeat them to my children. Why?
Because I would have played in the sandbox at kindergarten with someone not like
me, cheered on a squad where not all have the same ethnic roots, and exchanged
math notes with a fascinating foreign exchange student.
Cultural diversity is not important in a college education, it is vital. No other
place is more ideal than college ke of success, everyone would unlearn the
prejudices taught to them, and learn of What we need here is not the arrogance of
power, but the cooperation of everyone to learn and to be open-minded.