Volume 90, Issue 81

Tuesday, February 18, 1997



Diversity issue well-meaning

Re: Protest Ends in Discussion, Feb. 12

To the Editor:

When I first came to this school and experienced O-Week '94, the thing that struck me as the most memorable thing about the people at Western was that I felt fully accepted into the community and I felt that everyone else was equally accepted. It felt good – a relief to be so accepted. That feeling made me proud to be here.

I have no objections to the existence of a Black History Month, but for an association that one would normally assume as being against stereotyping, the BSA seems to have overlooked its own ranks. What caught my eye was the quote at the end of the aforementioned story: "The Gazette tends to attract black students who aren't representative of the black community," which implies there is a distinct and expected manner in which a black person is expected to act in accordance with, in order to be allowed to represent the black community.

This sounds like an Uncle Tom-ism that offends those of us who endorse the uniqueness of all individuals (being in a combination of heritage and in the actual characteristics of the individual).

The ethnic diversity pull-out seemed to be well-meaning in allowing us to be proud of our distinct ethnic origins and the traditions of those cultures. However, these are things in which we have a choice of making a part of our own characteristics (i.e. you cannot control your ethnic background but you can control how you act). The pull-out made an attempt at demonstrating the diversity of the cultural backgrounds that are associated with all sorts of members of the Western community. Certainly not all were represented and I believe we should have included comment by members of the ethnic majority as well (whatever group that may be).

Within "colours" there are cultures. For example, members of a West Indies community will have a different cultural experience than those from a community in Nigeria. In the same way, white people also have internal differences that we tend to poke fun at, for example, a Scotsman and a Welshman. Both are culturally different, yet they are from the same island. Do their cultural differences mean to say that a Scottish person, if they are in the majority of white people, can accuse a Welshman of not being representative of the white community? I should hope not.

Aubrey Harris
Philosophy III

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Copyright The Gazette 1997