Discussion on Race and Unequal Opportunities
Race has dominated the national discourse, especially after the death of Trayvon Martin. But the influence of racism on opportunities, has been debated for much longer. Ebru explores this delicate topic with a confluence of speakers, of all colors.
"Every generation has tried to move one step closer from that ugly bounding reality to the beauty of that dream," said Van Jones co-founder of Rebuild A Dream. Jones was NCore keynote speaker and he addressed the crowd Wednesday afternoon.
For twenty five years. Ncore has been discussing a very sensitive topic- race and higher education. Over 2,000 people from around the country attended the week long convention. Black, white, brown, yellow... The people attending were as diverse as the topics discussed.
"Part of our work is to make sure what we use to call the American dream works for everybody. Everyone should be able to work hard and get somewhere. You don't have to be born of a certain color or to a rich family, or a famous last name in order to get ahead. Our mission is to make sure that the promise of equal opportunity for everybody is upheld in the new century," said Jones.
With the country still grappling over Trayvon Martin's death, race is very much part of the American fabric. Jones touched on Martin's case in his speech earlier, "If your innocent unarmed child walks out the front door and an armed stranger shoots your child generally the police are on your side. For you, that's just cold comfort-- until you don't even have that."
"Educating people about race and racism is difficult. In large part because we live in a culture in the US where the profound denial in which so many Americans find themselves particularly white Americans frankly is very, very deep and it has been that way for a long time. Actually, if you look through historically, at no point in the American history did the majority group actually realize that racism was a significant problem, even in the early 1960's. Most White Americans did not believe that most Black folks had unequal opportunity for instance, let alone indigenous peoples, Latinos, Asian-Americans," chimed in Tim Wise, anti-racist author and educator.
Historically, it was during the 60's that Martin Luther King made the "I Have a Dream" speech. The Civil Rights Act was also passed which prohibited discrimination in voting, education, and the use of public facilities.Today's America is by far very different but we still deal with the residues of stereotypes and racism.
"I think it's really important to know that there are people out there who are really concerned about issues of race and diversity and injustice. And the fact that there is inequity in the U.S and that we have to be able to engage those issue, discuss them, have dialogue and learn," said Amer Ahmed, Assistant Director for the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs and Multicultural Center at University of Michigan.
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