There’s a difference between not being racist and being anti-racist. That distinction kicked off the session "Our Collective Responsibility: What can we do to challenge racism on our campus and in our community?"
University of Florida students, staff and faculty gathered in the Multicultural and Diversity Affairs office in the Reitz Union Sept. 6 to explore ways to take an active role in fighting racism and bigotry on campus and beyond.
The program was part of the University of Florida’s first Anti-racism Education Week, a series of programs promoting an inclusive campus environment.
Sponsored by Students Taking Action Against Racism, Student Government and UF Hillel, the discussion encouraged attendees to share examples of bigotry they have experienced or witnessed on campus, as well as helping them to understand privilege and offering ideas on how to be an ally for those fighting discrimination.
After introducing the concept of anti-racism, Jack Nguyen, MCDA’s director of Asian Pacific Islander American Affairs, and Billy Huff, MCDA’s director of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Affairs, facilitated small-group discussions with about 20 attendees.
Santiago Gutierrez, a second-year student in international studies, came to the session to learn more about the issues faced by communities other than his own. He said the event helped him make those connections, and he hopes to see the conversation spread beyond the Multicultural and Diversity Affairs office.
“This is a good step, but it has to expand to groups of people who normally wouldn’t go to something like this,” he said. “We need to have these discussions where they will reach more people.”
Organized by the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, Anti-racism Education Week began Sept. 5 with an interactive panel discussion on self-care during times of crisis. It continues Sept. 7 at 6 p.m. with a lecture and discussion on the origins of totalitarianism by Paul Ortiz of UF’s Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, in Reitz Union room 2201.
A First Amendment conversation schedule for Friday has been postponed due to the approach of Hurricane Irma.
The week’s events are supported by Multicultural and Diversity Affairs, the Bob Graham Center for Public Service, the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, and the Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations in the Levin College of Law. UF Hillel, the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, STARR (Students Taking Action Against Racism), Student Government, GatorWell and the UF Counseling and Wellness Center.