On Tuesday, February 7, the second session of Brown is the New White was held at UNCG.
During the event, attendees discussed the problems of discrimination, its causes, and how to solve them through understanding of one another.
Brown is the New White was held once before at UNCG, on September 20, 2016, aimed at furthering relationships and understandings between the different ethnic and cultural groups that make up the UNCG community, with the same purpose and drive on its second meeting.
Dr. Sara Carrig, organizer and program head, opened proceedings by welcoming the attendees and thanking them for taking the time to be there.
She stated, “Our goal is to continue building on a conversation that is taking place within many groups around campus.”
Carrig further elaborated that their goal was to enable the disparate groups of the UNCG community to better understand their differences and realize their similarities so they could work together to better the whole.
Several student speakers further discussed the problem the community faces, describing the state of the American government as “majoritarian democracy where the interests of minorities are often ignored.”
A clip was played of civil rights leader Steve Phillips of the Center for American progress, a prominent speaker on the subject.
Phillips stated, “Despite the fact that many discriminatory laws and policies have been abolished, the truth is those of color are still disadvantaged.”
Phillips further continued that the bias and inequalities had only grown over time, becoming entrenched not out of hate, but of lack of understanding regarding each other’s identities and problems.
As the next speaker, Kai Kpa, further remarked, this was the focus of the program’s efforts on campus, having created organizations and highways for this communication to occur in and on.
One of the major avenues for this was UNCG Office of Intercultural Engagement, which he described as a “comfortable place to have conversations for all.”
A five-week program, called Spartans in Dialogue, would be starting on March, wherein small groups of students would meet weekly in locations of their choosing to participate in discussions and activities to encourage communication and foster understanding of other’s identities and perspectives.
Other avenues were the Office of Leadership & Service Learning, which offers a variety of workshops to further this understanding.
Also discussed was the newly created position of ‘Chancellor’s Fellow for Campus Climate,’ who will be in charge of studying current events and phenomena like discrimination to see how they are affecting the University community.
“If you want to get involved, you only have to ask, opportunities are all around you,” Kpa said in conclusion. “You are at a time in your life where these opportunities are all around, take advantage of them.”
The event was then moved to group discussion, with questions being posed to the groups to talk amongst each other about, while focusing on listening to others more than talking about themselves.
One of the attendees, Janet Triole, said of unity, “It’s not natural. I think we’re very selfish people.”
“You can educate people, but it’s their choice,” Paul Gill said regarding intercultural engagement.
When asked about how to develop intercultural communication, Gill furthered that, “Common interests are a gateway.”
Kpa, having joined a group, agreed, stating that these differences were not just in culture, but individuals.
“We come from different backgrounds, different cultures, different learning experiences,” Kpa said. “We can grow up in the same neighborhood, but be shaped to be different people”
The groups left after an hour of discussion, many stating that they felt like they had a better understanding of their fellows around them.