Taking steps to further race relations on campus
Sophomore Knott Hall
Earlier today while studying, I couldn't help but overhear an interesting conversation a couple tables over concerning one Notre Dame student's ethnic heritage and the obstacles she faces to gain acceptance in the white-dominated culture of the U.S. and particularly on the Notre Dame campus.
I realize that I am in the cultural and social majority here at the University. I'm your average white guy. So while I can't relate first hand with social issues that a minority at Notre Dame may need to deal with, I'd like to think that I'm at least appreciative of a minority's struggles on such a white dominated campus, and I acknowledge the difficulties of such a student here at ND.
However, after listening to parts of the conversation I was dismayed at the stereotypes and generalizations the student was making about white Notre Dame students. Throughout the conversation, the student commented that the white students here are not as appreciative of their education as minorities are, that white students are not as morally strong as the minorities, and that white students are lazy.
Furthermore, she said that white Notre Dame students are arrogant and ignorant and that they always seek the easy way out instead of striving for personal growth.
I am sure that students of this description exist on this campus, in fact I know some myself, but for this woman to make such a generalization is ridiculous and completely counterproductive. It is insulting to me for her to question my moral fiber or my motivation, and it is insulting to claim that I take my education for granted simply because of the color of my skin.
The purpose of this letter is not to start a controversy, but rather to point out (to myself first and foremost) just how much work race relations need here on campus. It saddens me to think that such remarks could come from a young women who is the president of her ethnic organization.
To this person, please realize how counterproductive it is to hold such stereotypes when seeking to dispel your own racial stereotypes and gain acceptance for who you are. How can you ask others to drop racial stereotypes if you are not willing to do so yourself?
And to the rest of us, the fact that students at Notre Dame do hold these opinions means that maybe it's time we took race relations into our own hands. We all should seek to learn about and gain acceptance of other ethnicities than our own. So the next time you hear about a student cultural festival going on, I sincerely ask you to consider attending.
Without such effort, race relations aren't likely to improve.
All Viewpoint Stories for Friday, October 6, 2000