Lamar Thorpe: Race dialogue is critical

I agree with Mr. Alex Shoucair (“Race dialogue unnecessary,” Mar. 9, p. 4) that in recent years we have had a campus “racial controversy” that has been exploited to stir problems rather than create solutions. However, and I’m not one to agree with The Hatchet often, but on “Bridging the Gap” (Feb. 26, p. 1), and my endorsement for Student Association President, they got it right! And, if they continue to discuss, engage and bring new perspectives, they could be very successful in stimulating a proactive conversation about a complicated matter. You make some interesting arguments, Alex, but they don’t warrant a response because they’re based on your sincere lack of understanding.

The Hatchet provided a sincere assessment along with examples of particular black student experience at GW, those who feel isolated from the larger community. I emphasize one experience because there are black students who experience isolation from other black students or some black students who can balance life from margin to center. Your roommate’s response is yet another point of view.

Stereotypes aren’t deconstructed, Alex, by ignoring them, which was exemplified all over the article – for example, individual blacks speaking for an entire race or the idea of “ghetto.” You yourself landed in a stereotype by arguing that this is an issue of pride, as if to suggest that blacks don’t have pride. As an American, I’m pretty proud of who I am and what my skin color represents: a people of resilience, the trail from slavery to president. That trail has had many stops along the way, which incidentally focused on consciousness raising or engaging in a racial dialogue.

“The problem with no name,” sound familiar? Well, if you’ve taken a course in women’s studies or you’re smart then you know the phrase. Betty Friedan coined this phrase when she wrote about the strict enforcement of gender roles in the 1950s and ’60s, arguing that gender roles regulated middle- and upper-class Caucasian women to child bearing, doing housework and serving husbands. The success of her writings and later her book, “The Feminine Mystique,” lead to the launching of consciousness-raising groups among women, the development of grassroots women’s organizations and second-wave feminism.

Secretaries of State Hillary R. Clinton and Condoleezza Rice are perfect examples of the triumph and multifaceted history of women in the United States. However, this does not mean that middle-class women are still not relegated to jobs generally associated with care, subjected to low pay or given limited opportunities for advancement. Although three common yet small examples impede women’s mobility and access, the conversation about women’s status has to be placed on a continuum.

In other words, Alex, it’s necessary to engage in gender dialogue as well as race and class because power dynamics change, which is why the questions posed by The Hatchet were both critical and thought-provoking. I only touched on race and gender; however, it is race, class and gender that largely shape the existence of every American on a daily basis. To sit back and do what you propose is not only dangerous, it’s na’ve and cowardly.

The writer is a Presidential Administrative Fellow and the 2006-2007 president of the Student Association.

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