Nov 102008
 
Authors: Jake Blumberg

Just moments after the country’s next president was announced, Barack Obama’s opponent John McCain approached a deflated Republican audience to deliver his final concession speech.

The message delivered by the white man behind the podium represents how many Americans understand the issue of race in the U.S.:

“This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight . a century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt’s invitation of Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage in many quarters.

“America today is a world away from the cruel and frightful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African-American to the presidency of the United States.”

For many people, however, the world is still cruel and full of bigotry. While electing the first African American man into the Oval Office is no doubt a historic moment in our country’s history, racism is still a prevalent issue that plagues this country every day.

Throughout his presidential campaign, Barack Obama was forced to battle issues of racism. From his connection with Reverend Jeremiah Wright to accusations of being a terrorist, this presidential election has provided several examples of how racial oppression is still a very real issue in America.

Race is not the only area of inequality that impacts our country today. Examples of sexism, homophobia, ablism, classism and religious oppression can be found throughout our culture, media and society at large.

There is no doubt that our country has made great strides in the area of human rights in its history.

The severe effects of social inequality, however, are still felt by everyone in America.

In an effort to work toward equity for all people, many engage in a philosophy known as social justice.

As defined by Maurianne Adams, Lee Anne Bell and Pat Griffin in 2007: “[S]ocial justice is both a process and a goal.

The goal of social justice is full and equal participation of all groups in a society that is mutually shaped to meet their needs.

Social justice includes a vision of society in which the distribution of resources is equitable and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure.”

Broadly, social justice is an idealistic global vision of equity for all people.

A practical approach toward social justice at CSU can be found through programs like the Campus Step Up Social Justice Retreat.

Campus Step Up is an educational retreat organized by the Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement Office in which CSU students, staff and faculty can dialogue around issues of diversity and social action.

The Campus Step Up retreat will be held Jan. 15-17 in Estes Park. The retreat is free to all CSU students and includes meals, lodging and transportation.

SLiCE is currently seeking students who might be interested in participating in Campus Step Up. The application deadline for students will be this Friday.

Attending Campus Step Up involves traveling to Estes Park for a three-day retreat and engaging in meaningful discussions around the issues of social justice and diversity education.

Those interested in applying should pick up an application at the SLiCE office or visit http://www.slice.colostate.edu/slice/leadership/campus-step-up.aspx.

The results of the recent election warrant celebration for all those who desire social equity, but there is still much work to be done before true social justice can be achieved in America.

Due to its various opportunities regarding diversity and social action, CSU is a unique place to explore issues of social justice.

Programs like the Campus Step Up Social Justice retreat allow CSU students to gain a deeper understanding of how individuals can create positive social change.

Young college students have the potential and capacity to reshape the identity of our country’s future, and now is the time to start.

Jake Blumberg is a program coordinator for the SLiCE office and an instructor for the President’s Leadership Program. SLiCE writes a column that appears occasionally in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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