Diversity event shows racism still exists
Posted April 18, 2008

Jennifer Kitzmann
LV Life Editor

During Multicultural and Diversity Week, Sister Circle and the Multicultural Club Council held an event in the Harris Art Gallery to bring awareness about living in what they’ve dubbed today’s Holocaust.

The MCC works in and throughout the community to support and promote diversity issues. The group joined with Sister Circle, a group of women working together to overcome challenges in the community and bring awareness to students about many issues concerning racism.

“The Holocaust is not just a thing of the past, it is happening every day and affects everyone,” Cherie Burkes, a MCC and Sister Circle member said.

“We are living low key Holocaust.”

It’s a difficult comparison. The Holocaust was the systematic persecution and annihilation of European Jews by Nazi Germany and its collaborators between 1933 and 1945.

In 1933 approximately 9 million Jews lived in the 21 countries of Europe that would be occupied by Germany during World War II.

By 1945 two out of every three European Jews had been killed. Jews were the primary victims, and six million were murdered. The disabled and other groups also were targeted for decimation.

“A Holocaust of events are still happening today in society, such as Jena 6, the African American women who were raped and killed in Louisiana, the Jamestown cult, the bombing in London, to the violence happening in the Middle East, and even apartheid and segregation in South Africa,” Burkes said. “Whichever Holocaust it is, it still affects everyone.”

The MCC showed a video and clips of the Holocaust of 1933 to remind students of what the event – and word – have come to mean.

“Our main goal was to bring diversity to the campus and bring awareness of the differences in society that are happening right now,” Jerrica Morales, MCC Vice President said. “We want to help break down the barrier of stereotypes in society, especially those who automatically assume things with associating cultures.”

The Holocaust, the impetus for World War II was the worst example of discrimination; millions died in ghettos and concentration camps as a result of forced labor, starvation, exposure, brutality, disease and execution.

Flores said that racism should not be just associated with a thing of the past.

“People encounter racism daily. Sometimes, it is a very serious case while other times they are able to dust it off their shoulders,” Flores said.

“(Discrimination) is not just according to race and ethnicity. It may include economic status, place or residence and gender and sexuality,” Flores said.

The video footage of the Holocaust was educational.

“People need to realize that we all struggle; some of the struggles are silent struggles while others are out for everyone to hear,” Flores said.

“People need to break down the walls we, ourselves put up.”

Students were able to associate past racial tension with racial discrimination that is still happening today in our other countries.

“Every day, we are faced to make some type of decision that involves how we interact with others,” Flores said.

The movie “Crash” was also shown to demonstrate how racial tensions can affect those that we come in contact with in everyday life.

“Crash,” is an urban drama that tracks the volatile intersections of a multi-ethnic cast of characters who struggle to overcome their fears as they meet each other coming in and out of each others lives.

“Most people go their entire lives without meeting or even seeing someone of a different color race background,” Flores said.

“Crash” shows ethnicity of all backgrounds and how each of the characters play a role in each other’s lives.

The movie is a prime example of how being in contact with other races and ethnicites is inevitable and sometimes can change your life.

“We need to push those stereotypes aside and open our horizons to others that don’t look like us. Who knows, the person sitting across from you might end up becoming your best friend even though they don’t look like you,” Flores said.

Jennifer Kitzmann can be contacted at jkitzmann@ulv.edu

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