The Difficult Acceptance of Diversity

Faggot. Nigger. Beaner. Dyke. Chink. Gook. Whore. Raghead. Cripple. It.

Consider your skin color. Consider your heritage. Consider your gender identity/expression. Consider your sexual orientation. Consider your national origin. Consider your religion. Consider any and everything that sets you apart from what is established as “normal.” This week has kicked off the 3rd annual Diversity Week at WCU. But just how hard is it to get people in the South to understand and accept people who are different from them? And for that matter, people everywhere? “I had two frat guys come up and get in my face telling me I was a stupid dyke and that I’ll burn in hell and all the same BS that everyone else says and they asked me if I lived in [residence hall] and I said no, and they tried to hit me and I said ‘I wouldn’t do that, the cops are coming this way on patrol,’ and as they were looking around I walked away.” – Anonymous student.A few weeks ago, I didn’t give a “friend” a hug before I went home and she said to me, “Come on, don’t be a nigger” (I never spoke to her again). Every semester, the “Preacher Man” comes to campus with his “Fear God, Trust Jesus” sandwich sign on and criticizes the way we all live our lives, and speaking loudly and obnoxiously about we’re all going to hell because we don’t prescribe to his strict interpretation of the Bible while throwing out slurs like “whores” and “homos.” Jew jokes have run rampant on this campus. The Pagan Student Association’s flyers have been torn down and defaced, as have BGLAD and Delta Lambda Phi’s. What is it that makes people do these hateful things? What’s so scary about someone who is different from you? Most of us learn intolerance or maybe even just reluctance toward people who are outwardly not like us at a young age. We learn it from our families, our school lives, our friends… but we’re in college now. It’s time we grow up, put on our mature faces, and learn to accept people for who they are and all the facets of them that make them who they are. What humans don’t understand, they seek to destroy. Those days need to end now. Why is accepting diversity in the South so especially hard? People particularly in the deep rural South still have a hard time getting over the biases that have been instilled in them over the years within Southern culture. The days of slavery, segregation, and anti civil rights are over with. Yet people continue to hate and discriminate and harbor prejudice against people they don’t know anything about. To help combat some of this hate, the Multicultural Advisory Council has sponsored the Wall of Oppression on the UC Lawn. On it, people have spray painted hate speech. Every hateful word imaginable is on the wall. Maybe if people are forced to look at it every time they go eat or check their mail, they will realize the impact of these words and refrain from using them and encourage others not to as well. Because everyone, regardless of their national origin, skin color, gender, sexual orientation, etc, has feelings that can be hurt just like yours. We’re all members of the same human race, and therefore we should all treat each other with the same respect.Do you use hate speech in a joking manner or with your peers behind closed doors? Do you look around to see if there are any black people around before telling a racist joke? Are you consciously aware of your own biases toward people? Do you even realize that when you use the infamous N-word, slur against Middle-Eastern people or say, “that’s so gay” that you are promoting bigotry, closed-mindedness, and bias?Take the Implicit test – and find out what biases you are unconsciously harboring in your head.