How can we facilitate cultural exchange on campus?

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke

This quote has resonated throughout groundbreaking historical events. The majority of German citizens did not hold Hitler’s beliefs of Jewish persecution, but very few did anything to stop it. Quite recently, a toddler in China was hit by a car in a market. 18 people walked past her but did nothing to help her. The extent of her injuries were so severe, and she died the next day. When the pedestrians were asked why they did nothing to help her, they stated that they were afraid to get involved, as they feared that they blamed for the child’s injuries. This was attributed this to the Nanjing Judge case, in which the judge ruled that the man who saved a fallen elderly woman from being crushed by pedestrians was guilty of pushing her down. In court, it was said that common sense dictates that if he brought her to the hospital, he must have been responsible. Fear of being blamed for the child’s injuries prevented the pedestrians from intervening, and their refusal to help the crushed toddler led to her. But does this quote relate to contemporary racism? If we do not address issues of race freely, are we guilty of perpetuating racist attitudes?

Beverly Tatum’s Breaking the Silence (2008) addresses how fear restrains free discussion on issues of race. Too many people hold themselves back for fear of offending someone, fear of coming out wrong. This brings in the colorblind ideology, which enables people to skirt around around racial issues by completely disregarding them. By doing so, they perpetuate the disillusion that everybody receives equal opportunities, regardless of race.

It is fear that perpetuates colorblind ideology. In Tatum’s Breaking the Silence, a woman shows how colorblindness stunts racial exchange when she states “Yes, there is fear, the fear of speaking is overwhelming. I do not feel for me, that it is a rejection from people of my race, but anger and disdain from people of color, the ones that I am fighting for” (146). This quote particularly resonated to me, because I have avoided bringing up racial issues for the fear of it coming out wrong. Muhlenberg, as a whole, has a low diversity ratio, and racial discussion has been stunted. Not too long ago, a former Klu Klux Klan member ranked Muhlenberg one of the best schools based on White population and SAT scores. Although most students reacted with outrage, it was not clear how to combat this problem. Does the low diversity of the college make it less appealing to black students, or is the issue a matter of admission?

Due to it’s low diversity, Muhlenberg is not exactly a hotbed of racial exchange. Although Muhlenberg provides groups intended to raise cultural awareness such as The Black Students Association and the multicultural sorority Theta Nu Xi, campus involvement within these groups is relatively low, when compared to the campus involvement with social fraternities and sororities, and acapella groups.

What do you think is the best way to ease cultural and racial exchange?