Campus experts explore the myths of living in a post-racial society

The Committee for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion through the School of Education and Human Services is sponsoring a series of talks throughout the semester. The series is titled “The Myth of Living in a Post-Racial Society,” and the first of these talks, “Why Does Race Still Matter in America,” occurred last Wednesday, Jan 16.

The panelists that attended included Raneen Allos, Jeni Delao, Dr. Jay Marks, Dr. Robert Martin, Dr. Tom Rellinger, Dr. Chaunda Scott and Oakland University Vice President Glenn McIntosh.

After a half hour of mingling and an introduction by SEHS Dean John Margerum-Leys and Professor Danielle Ligocki, the panelists were ready to begin answering general questions. The six panelists were given five minutes each for their personal answers to both of the following questions — what has your experience been living in a racialized society, and why does the myth of a post-racial society persist?

Each of the panelists had their own takes, and many of the members had personal stories pertaining to their experiences in what they considered to be a currently racialized world.

Marks, a former special education teacher with the Detroit Public School Systems, said his history of being racially profiled was a huge part of his experiences as a black man in America.

He recalled times he was being followed by the police — “they don’t seem to care that I’m 51 years old, they don’t seem to care that I have an advanced degree, they don’t seem to care or know that I am middle class, if you will” — and how this fear is too persistent in his life for racism to be over.

Dr. Chaunda Scott shared similar stories of growing up in Minneapolis “back in the day.” Being the only African-American child in her elementary school, she shared her story about being discriminated against by a white friend of hers at the time.

“In first or second grade, my next door neighbor, a white girl, [we] were best friends. We were in the same grade, spending the nights at each other’s house. All of a sudden she was having a birthday party,” she recalled. “One of the girls came up to me in class and said, ‘so-and-so’s having a birthday party, but you’re not gonna be invited, because if you do none of us are gonna go,’ and so I was just shocked.”

These were just a few of the many stories shared by the speakers. The panel eventually opened up to the audience, and listeners were allowed to ask the panelists their own questions about the myth of a post-racial world. Nearly all of the panelists were able to give their input, and all of them were able to answer everyone’s questions and comments.

The Committee for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion is hosting the next presentation in the series, titled “Microaggressions,” on Wednesday, March 13 from 5:30 to 7:30 in Founder’s Ballroom D in the new section of the Oakland Center.

For questions about the series or other questions pertaining to the School of Education and Human Services, email [email protected] and follow the Committee for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion on Twitter at @Equity4SEHS.