Oct 232007
 
Authors: Luci StorelliCastro

Dear Mates,

If there is anything that I would change about our “choice city,” it would be the amount of diversity within the population.

Even though Fort Collins is a college town, the degree of diversity is not significant, giving rise to a largely homogenous white suburbia.

More specifically, I find there is a deficiency in the representation of African-Americans. This is especially noticeable in school settings.

I recall, for example, in my high school years there were literally only a handful of African-American students within a general student body population of around 3,000.

The shortage of African – Americans in our community is quite unfortunate, as we are missing out on exposure to an important and vibrant subculture within America.

One of the unexpected benefits of being in Ghana is that I have had the opportunity to befriend many African-American students from across the country. I consider the friendships I have forged with these students as one of the highlights of my experience in Ghana so far.

It is mind-boggling that two months of daily interaction with African-American students has taught and made me more aware about issues concerning race in the United States than 17 years of living in Fort Collins.

Questions of interracial dating, segregation, hate crimes, and the usage of the “n” word have been the subject matter of many conversations.

More recently, however, a topic that has kept some of us up debating until three in the morning – whether it is possible for black men and women to be racist.

It should be noted that the category of black people not only includes African-Americans, but members of many nationalities.

Some students argue it is not possible for blacks to be racist because racism implies being in a position of power. It follows, since black people have traditionally lacked power, they cannot be racist.

This argument, though, is unsatisfactory on various counts.

The historical record is full of examples where black people in a position of power have exerted racial prejudices against other races.

Take, for example, the land reforms carried out against whites under the Robert Mugabe regime. Whether forcibly seizing lands from white farmers is appropriate constitutes another question altogether.

For our purposes, it is enough to recognize that some form of racism against whites does exist in Zimbabwe where black leadership is in power.

More importantly, though, the definition of racism does not necessarily entail power.

The Webster online dictionary defines racism as “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.”

A second definition highlights “racial prejudice or discrimination” as defining features of racism.

In neither one of these definitions is power a prerequisite.

Writing about why some tend to think that black racism does not exist Keith Boykin said, “part of it is about getting the white power structure to own up to white supremacy and the continuing effects of white racism. Part of it is about depicting blacks in the most sympathetic victim role that suggests we are not guilty of the same prejudices practiced by whites. Part of it is about understanding the historical context that leads blacks to hold the racial beliefs that we do.”

In the end, claiming that a black person is incapable of being racist is at par with arguments that homosexuals can’t be homophobic – and we all know that isn’t true, just ask Larry Craig.

Luci Storelli-Castro is a senior political science and philosophy major. Her appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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