Students get real in doc about race

Posted May 4, 2007
?Leah Heagy
UC Los Angeles professor and filmmaker Jerome Rabow led a discussion April 26 in La Fetra Lecture Hall that dealt with stereotypes, prejudice, sex and race. As part of his presentation, Rabow showed a documentary, which featured former students from his class discussing these issues. Rabow earned his doctorate in social psychology at the University of Michigan and has been teaching at UCLA for 30 years. He is also a licensed marriage and family therapist.

A film, “Voices of Pain, Voices of Hope,” a documentary about race and discrimination was presented in La Fetra Auditorium last week.

Jerome Rabow, a sociology professor at the University of California Los Angeles and the film’s producer, was also on hand for the showing, which was sponsored by Coalition for Diversity.

The film featured an ethnically diverse class of UCLA students discussing race and discrimination issues.

The students featured shared their experiences of racism and being discriminated against because of their skin color, and for the personal choices they make in their lives.

“I have deep faith that when the students walk in they will bring into the classroom with them prejudices and stereotypes about other races, the other gender and the other sexual orientation,” Rabow said. “I also have deep faith that they want to change this because it means that America will be better and they will be better. Loving people is much easier and more healthy than hating, discriminating, stereotyping and excluding.”

The class was graded on attendance, participation and the papers and journals they did.

Participation was not a problem because many students had to express their feelings and concerns.

Some spoke about how they hated their skin color.

“If I ignored my color, then everybody would, too.” said one African-American woman in the film.

She was scared to identify with her culture.

“Most culturalism came about for a variety of reasons,” said Jason Neidleman, professor of political science.

It was surprising to learn that the UCLA students in the film believe that diversity is not welcome on their campus and there are stereotypes about almost everyone.

“Diversity is more welcomed here,” said Kellie Salmeron, a sophomore communications major. “If we are more open to learning about other people’s struggles with diversity, things might be different.”

In the film, some students advised others to accept people for who they are.

A handful of Caucasian students began to speak out of how they were ashamed and guilty because of their roots.

Some also explained how they began to understand what other students felt like because of their skin color.

“The real change comes about when you’re ready to pay a price for your beliefs,” said Hector Delgado, chairman of the Coalition for Diversity and professor of sociology.

The discussion after the film turned to another diversity issue: homosexuality.

A few gay and bisexual students shared their struggles with discrimination.

The message that the students were trying to send was that the first step is to realize that there is a problem and then take action.

“If it’s too easy and convenient, you’re probably not doing enough,” Delgado said when he described how people need to believe in something and take a risk.

Audience members asked Rabow questions about the film and what he learned from the experience of making it.

“I learned that when the students walk in, they will have experiences with racism, homophobia and sexism,” Rabow said.

“Those experiences need to be explored, discussed and respected.”

Vanessa Avilez can be reached at

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