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Diversity: One Woman's Exploration


by Nia Turner, 2003The purpose of this website is to serve as a place of reflection on issues of diversity. Diversity has several facets including race, ethnicity, and class. These factors influence lives, perspectives, relationships, and actions. It is important that one thinks critically about diversity, and explores its implications for forming communities and identities. Diversity raises an array of questions. For example, How does one define diversity? Seeking satisfactory explanations to questions of diversity is challenging, and leads to a wide range of possibilities. Inquires stemming from various issues of diversity can be used to initiate conversations between people. One Woman's Exploration and the articles featured on this website are intended to encourage further discussion about diversity. John F. Kennedy: If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.

Diversity and Deviance, an article by Paul Grobstein

This article suggests that diversity is a natural and necessary component of biological systems. It also makes the argument that diversity is intended to promote mutual cooperation, interdependence, and learning between different organisms.

Culture, Not Race, Explains Diversity an article by Mark Nathan Cohen, The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 17, 1998

This article suggests that there is not convincing evidence to support a biological basis for race and therefore it argues that one should question the classification of "race". I believe the notion of race is a construct that is utilized to create social hierarchy and separation. Race is useful in certain frameworks such as in the areas of medical research and healthcare. It is important for individuals to re-examine and question perceptions of race.

Diverse View of College Diversity, an article by Philadelphia Inquirer, 9 June 2003

Bryn Mawr is a fairytale come true. It is the Oxford inspired castles that stand with such poise. The rich green landscape molded to the soles of my feet. The unique women that share an enthusiasm and passion for learning as I do. Bryn Mawr College is a mystical and surreal haven for living, learning, and growing. Bryn Mawr is all of this on the surface, but underneath lies more to be desired. When I step out of the fairytale into reality. I see that I am one of a small proportion of black women, and that there are even fewer Latinas attending this institution. It becomes increasingly more difficult to connect with other students who can empathize with ones experiences or perspectives. The happiness I have found here is invested in my own determination to succeed at BMC, and the supportive network of people I choose to surround myself with on a daily basis. I believe that this experience has made me appreciate even more so the value of diversity. I strongly believe that an increase in cultural diversity of underrepresented minorities would enrich the intellectual discourse inside and outside the classroom, and bring greater social awareness to campus.

Building Bridges Between the City and the Suburbs, an article by Susan Lonkevich, The Pennsylvania Gazette, 1 June 1997

I enjoyed reading this article because it speaks to the idea of transcending race and class. Early on in the lives of children the classroom helps to build a solid foundation. It is a place where social interaction is fostered, and the spirit and mind are nurtured. The behaviors we demonstrate as adults are shaped by the values we are taught as children. The PARTNERS program focuses on helping children build bridges across difference by exposing children to diversity at an early age, through programs that bring suburban and urban children together to learn about one another. The children begin to develop an appreciation for diversity, by seeing the world from different perspectives. Recognizing the importance that communities be built to embrace differences. I believe this article raises an interesting question. How can we as individuals help to build bridges across difference in order to foster a sense of community on our campuses and in our neighborhoods?Rene Dubos: Human diversity makes tolerance more than a virtue; it makes it a requirement for survival. Celebrations of Life, 1981

Class in the Classroom an essay by Lee Warren, Harvard University

I am aware that class is a determining factor in the level of college preparation students receive. Students from affluent backgrounds have access to educational resources that students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds do not have. However, prior to reading this essay I did not think about the affect socioeconomics has on student participation. This essay explains why some students oppose to others are reluctant to participate in class discussion. It suggests that students from lower income backgrounds tend to have less confidence in expressing their views in a classroom setting.

The undefinable race an article featured in John Galt Press, January 2001

White Girl? Cousin Kim Is Passing. By Lonnae O'Neal Parker, Washington Post, February 28, 2000

The notion of passing draws to the surface several issues in terms of race relations in America. This article focuses on how one's perception of race is determined by society's standards. It also explores the implications racial identity has in terms of psychological and behavioral development. Hopefully, this article will initiate conversations about the significance and formation of racial identities.

Identity Development an article by Dr. Beverly Tatum

Self-segregation has found its way into the halls of higher learning. Take for example Bryn Mawr College, on any given day out of the academic school year one will notice how students self segregate in the dinning halls. Most of the South Asian, Black, Asian, and White students sit at tables according to their racial identity. Why? One may argue that it is an unconscious choice or that people have a preference for those that share their racial and ethnic identities. Dr. Tatum suggests in this essay that the formation of racial identity determines who individuals sit with in the cafeteria. This article inspires me to think about and question my development of racial and ethnic identity. When did I first become aware of race? As a child I grew up on a block consisting predominately of white families. My playmates were white and black. It didn't matter what color they were at the time. Until someone pointed out that I was different from "them". I imagine I must have asked how I was different, and furthermore why it mattered that I was different? As I grew up I recall having fewer white friends. I wonder did I make a conscious choice at the time to befriend mostly blacks or did it just happen to unfold this way. Dr. Tatum expresses in this article that many blacks realize by the time they reach puberty that they are different. The media and daily life experiences reinforce the idea of difference, inequality, and inferiority. Individuals then begin to internalize these sentiments, and form relationships based upon their encounters. Individuals tend to find a support network among people who can empathize and identify with similar experiences.

Is race useful?

Ethnicity or Race?

I believe this article is provocative in the respect that it encourages one to recognize the distinction between ethnicity and race. In addition, the author suggests that one rethink these constructs in relation to there roles in allowing individuals to better understand their lives and relationships with others. This article speaks to the question; is race useful and in what context?

Race in Americas Elite Prep Schools

This article resonated deeply for me because it sheds light on the sentiment shared by several African Americans who attend predominately white institutions of higher learning. These students throughout their educational experience may feel that they are caught in the balance ("limbo") of two worlds. One world being the white upper class and the other world being the black middle or working class. I would argue that for Black and Hispanic working class students it is most difficult to adjust both socially and emotionally to the white upper-class world. One must learn to function in this society, and simultaneously struggle to maintain one's connection to their former world. One tends to feel as if he or she never quite belongs, and assumes a position on the periphery. Forced to look in from the outside into a world with its own set of unspoken rules. This world is difficult to penetrate, but eventually one learns if indeed he/she would like to survive and succeed in it. One learns to play by the rules over time in hopes of one day re-creating the rules to be inclusive.

Class,not race, a better determinant of where students go to school

This article posses an interesting question that educators, administrators, college admission officers face. Is race the most effective way to diversify schools? Some would argue that socioeconomics would ensure diversity among student populations. Suggesting that students from an array of class backgrounds bring to the classroom more than a spectrum of colors, but also various experiences that would enrich the educational experience of every student. To the contrary others assert that adopting a diversity policy based upon class is problematic because it raises class consciousness. However, despite the difference of opinion it is recognized by both perspectives that individuals who come from disadvantaged backgrounds do not have equal access to education regardless of color. The bottom line is that every individual despite their race and class deserves a quality education that will afford students the opportunity of socioeconomic mobility.

Washington File that discusses Out of Africa Theory

The "Out of Africa" theory raises the question is race useful in specific contexts? The disciplines of natural science and anthropology demonstrate a need to utilize the classification of race as a tool in understanding human development. What are the implications that can be drawn from this discovery? Furthermore, is it important to the wider community to understand that there is mounting evidence that suggest that the origin of mankind lies in Africa? How does this change the way one perceives the construction of race?

Talking about Racial Issues

Exploring race through white teens' eyes

MultiCulti: "A Different World: Children's Perception of Race and Class in the Media"

Racial profiling not 'wired' into brain Study finds recognizing people by race a reversible way of detecting social groups"

The Meaning of Race in Science--Considerations for Cancer Research

The Debate over Race Revisited

Race and Racism

Race and Ethnic Standards

Race Relations at F&M

Reactions to the Supreme Court's Affirmative Action Decision

Franklin Thomas: One day our descendants will think it incredible that we paid so much attention to things like the amount of melanin in our skin or the shape of our eyes or our gender instead of the unique identities of each of us as complex human beings. in Gloria Steinem, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, 1983,

Supporters Hail Affirmative Action Ruling" an article by CNN Staff, June 24,2003

University of Michigan Law School Admissions Policy

Educators hall, opponents decry affirmative action decision an article by USA Today staff, June 23, 2003

Colleges cheer affirmative action decision an article by Steve Giegerich, June 24,2003

Supreme Court hands down affirmative action decision an article by Armstrong Williams, June 23,2003

I believe the University of Michigan sought to equal out the playing field for qualified Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans. Taking into consideration that in a significant amount of cases these groups tend to come from lower income backgrounds. I do not perceive this quota system as taking applicant spaces away from Whites, but rather a mechanism to admit qualified students of color that deserve an opportunity to achieve the "American Dream". The difficulty with this system is that it only acts as a "bandage" for a larger problem, which is that in America socio-economics is a determining factor in gaining access to a quality education. Education in this country is not equal across the board, but instead is reflective of the "haves" and "have-nots". I think constituents should demand that our educational system be revised so that there is an equal distribution of taxpayer money to pay for public education. I also believe the federal government should provide effective resources for pupils in the inner cities and rural areas to have comparable class size, technology, and curriculum as students attending schools in affluent communities.

After 25 Years, A Road Map for Diversity on Campus an article by Jacques Steinberg, June 24, 2003

This past semester I along with students from Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges joined other students from across the country in our nation's capital to show our support for Affirmative Action policies. I can recall a vivid memory from that day in Washington, DC. Two parents stood on the sidewalk and waved a sign that read "My son is white and he benefits from affirmative action." I admire these parents for their position on Affirmative Action, and it seems they recognize that students of color contribute to their son's educational experience. I applaud the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the University of Michigan Law Admissions Program. Finally, with this decision the Judicial Branch sets a precedent for admissions offices across the country to follow, by recognizing the need and value of having a "critical mass" of minority students attending universities. As a student of color attending Bryn Mawr College I recognize the need for such policies that seek to ensure a diverse student body. I believe that I benefit from having students from diverse racial backgrounds in the classroom, and my observations are that the classroom discussions are rich and thought provoking. I would imagine that the college atmosphere as a whole would be more welcoming to minority students and faculty if a critical mass of minorities attended the school. Most importantly I believe that I could thrive at a college that is committed to increasing racial diversity, and has dedicated a significant amount of resources to recruiting and retaining a critical mass of historically disenfranchised minority groups. I am encouraged by this outcome, and furthermore optimistic about the progress this decision may yield in the future.

I am pleased with the court's decision to uphold the University of Michigan's admissions policy. I believe the university's policy demonstrates that the school has made a genuine commitment to diversity. The law school seems to recognize that a diverse student body creates a richer and more challenging learning environment. It also appears to me that the university is not only interested in creating an atmosphere that welcomes minorities as intellectuals, but also as future law practitioners that will have the opportunity to reshape the judicial system. The University of Michigan Law School is a model for other institutions of higher learning across the country. It is my hope that this court decision will encourage American's to realize that regardless of skin color we all have an invested interest in diversity as well as a commitment to improve the amount of diversity in different sectors. I believe this policy is an excellent framework because it emphasizes the importance of evaluating an applicant on an individual basis taking into consideration various factors that could paint a better picture of who a student is and what he/she has to offer to the college community.

Fixing the Race Gap in 25 Years or Less, an article by Steven A. Holmes and Greg Winter, June 29, 2003

Justice O'Conner said, "I hope it looks as though we don't need artificial help to fill our classrooms with highly qualified students at the Graduate level." However, I hope the overall sentiment of the power brokers is not an artificial sensitivity towards the inequality of education in America. I question whether or not the wealthy in addition to the poor believe that inequality in education is a worthy investment. What do the rich have to loose? Well, if education k-12 becomes less segregated according to the "haves" and the "have nots", but focuses more on equal education then ultimately the top institutions in this country will be proportionally representative of the United States. Is America prepared for the challenges this would present? Just imagine that entrance into the nation's most selective schools would become increasingly more competitive. The sons and daughters of affluent backgrounds would be competing for the limited admission spaces as the kid who lives in the heart of North Philadelphia. Is America prepared to make progress in this direction? I believe affirmative action is a Band-Aid to cover up the race gap in America, but are politicians, parents, and educators ready to seek ways to achieve equality, or will this "fixing the race gap" become mission impossible? Justice O'Conner projected that in 25 years Affirmative Action should not be used. However, our history as a powerful nation has been shaped by inequality as is our today, but will our tomorrow continue to follow this same path? It seems that the advancement of one racial group occurs at the expense of another group.

School Research Gets to Race Gap, an article by Tracy Dell'Angela, June 30, 2003

To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded! -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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