By: Riley Holcraft
Volunteer state community college participated in diversity week by hosting an event with the viewing and discussion of a three-part film, the Color of Fear.
The documentary spotlights eight men of Asian, European, Latino, or African descent. Their conversations and interactions expose the intensity of racism in America.
Issues such as sexism and homophobia are also addressed in group discussions.
Manager of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Jeff King, organized a final discussion for students and faculty that viewed the film to reflect on the controversial topics.
Guest speaker, Michael McDonald, facilitated a chance to revisit the compelling discussion in the film.
McDonald encouraged the audience to express personal thoughts and stressed the importance of addressing issues that may be uncomfortable.
McDonald opened the conversation with a single thought, “when the founding fathers envisioned freedom, they envisioned it for a very small number of people.”
He presented a brief explanation of the history of the Constitution. It is one of the shortest documents in the history of creating a nation, and it completely avoids any mention of race.
The film presented racism as an issue that has always been there. Although the behavior is learned, children become exposed at a young age.
Ultimately, “racism is a concept that people choose to either accept or not accept,” explained McDonald.
Stereotypes will always be present within society, but believing them is an individual choice.
Another aspect of racism concerns economic class. McDonald chose to discuss the topic due to its absence within the Color of Fear.
The audience all agreed that a person’s economic status is often compared to his or her race.
For example, the war on drugs focused on poor neighborhoods participating in the use and sale of crack cocaine.
Most of the people in these poor communities where of African-American or Hispanic descent. While rich, predominantly Caucasian neighborhoods with white powder cocaine substance abuse were rarely targeted.
There’s a discomfort that comes with the discussion of these topics.
“There is the fear of the unknown in our society, but it is important to hold each other accountable,“ said McDonald.
He encouraged the audience to strive for understanding. Racism is often swept under the rug for someone else to handle.
He closed Diversity Week at Vol State with a final call to action.
“It comes down to personal responsibility in terms of being vulnerable. The future of racism in America is based on the actions of today’s youth,” said McDonald.