Feb 102002

In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that segregation was unconstitutional in the case of Brown vs. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. Unfortunately, laws seem to be easier to change than people’s minds.

Walking through the LSC plaza everyday you will see the practice of self-segregation. People will hang out with people like themselves- whether it be people of the same major, extracurricular interest, sexuality or of the same race. Laws prohibit the exclusion of people, yet, amazingly, we do it ourselves.

This debate questions whether the diversity movement, in an attempt to include all people, actually does the opposite and excludes members of the majority population.

The answer is no.

People, using the time-honored practice of self-segregation, exclude themselves from the movement; they are not excluded by or because of it.

Oftentimes, people find themselves uncomfortable when surrounded by people who are different, or they feel that the issues in the diversity movement are not issues which directly affect their lives. However, just because people do not participate does not mean they are not included.

If you look at a photo of the Martin Luther King Jr. march in Fort Collins this year, you’ll probably see that there were actually more white people in the march than any other race. Last year, while covering the march for a story in the Collegian, I met a man named Dale Onderson who, while in the South during the civil rights movement, actually tried to sit on the black side of the bus. When they told him to move, he did, but he always felt bad for not standing up for himself. Ever since then, he’s marched on MLK day, even with a cane. Its people like Onderson and all of the other marchers on MLK day that prove that the diversity movement is not for a specific population, but for everyone /_” and everyone is welcome.

Last year, while I was attending CSU’s Multicultural Student Leadership Retreat, I saw the same thing. At the retreat, which focused on multicultural issues, there were just as many, if not more, white students in attendance. They were students who saw a problem in society and worked to correct it. They participated in the discussions and all the students, together, worked toward a solution.

I understand how some students may feel alienated and even excluded by the diversity movement. It’s a movement that seems to attract only those in the minority population, dealing with, what seems, only minority issues. Of course, many people won’t feel comfortable taking part in a movement that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with them. But by saying that the movement excludes members of a certain population is simply not the truth. People exclude themselves, and I really wish they wouldn’t.

The truth is, the diversity movement is for everyone. Right now, it seems to be focused on race, the most obvious and outward of our differences with each other. But the movement simply is the inclusion of all people and seeing everyone as equals. It would be impossible for this movement to succeed without the inclusion of everyone, and the leaders of the movement know that.

People may feel excluded from the movement, like members of the minority population often feel when they are surrounded by a majority population. But the feeling of exclusion is simply that, a feeling. It is not real, and if more people participated in the movement, they would probably see that.

Maria Sanchez-Traynor is a senior majoring in English and journalism.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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