More diverse voices needed to effectively talk about race
January 22, 2010
Filed under Archives
The stories that appear on the front page are most important and most likely to be read. Grady Gamble’s story “Diversity needed to tackle institutional oppression of Black males” exposes an experience that statistics cannot reveal.Highlighting the retention rates of black male athletes does not do the severity of the issue justice, but illustrating the personal realities of the situation does. We have chosen to focus on Gamble’s voice because its presence in our paper upholds both The Guilfordian’s and the college’s shared commitment to diversity.
A sound commitment to diversity must be both quantitative and qualitative, not just one or the other.
The influence of statistics on the community’s general awareness of an issue is limited because of the narrow scope of numerical data. Statistics do not tell the stories behind the life of the average black male athlete at this institution.
Unless the community chooses to look beyond the numbers and listen to each individual student’s story, too many of our black male athletes will continue to not graduate. Members of the same race do not always have the same experiences, and Gamble’s story is not every story.
In order for this institution to soundly adhere to its core value of diversity, the administration and the faculty need to understand that talking about race is difficult, and that it will not happen organically.
Therefore, dialogue about race must be intentional. In order to talk about race openly and successfully, the voices of people of color must not be overpowered by white voices. Since there are more white members of this community than there are non-white members, we must make sure that we weigh the individual perspectives of all underrepresented races equally.
Gamble’s story is on the front page because it is a personal, intentional account of how race affects the treatment of non-white students.
Gamble suggests in his article that a qualitative commitment to diversity and inclusive engagement means ensuring that black males have the institutional support that they need to succeed socially, academically, and athletically.
If students, the administration, faculty, and staff do not proactively support our black male athletes, then the black male athlete’s lack of felt social and academic support will render him absent from non-athletic events.
We need to send our black male athletes the message that while they were recruited to play sports, their primary goal is to graduate and earn their degrees. When black male recruits take a tour of campus, we need to make sure that they do not spend more time in Ragan-Brown than they do anywhere else.
However, we cannot prescribe solutions when people’s voices are not present in the decision making processes of our campus community. More voices like Gamble’s need to be part of the dialogue on race in our community.