Students Discuss Racism At Winthrop JCR Forum
One hundred students debated campus race relations last night in a lively discussion forum titled, "Is it Racism or are Minorities Overreacting: A Mainstream Perspective."
Sponsored by the Harvard Foundation for Race Relations, the event began a series of round-table discussions aimed at promoting "constructive dialogue on issues of race and culture," said moderator Carlos Watson '91, co-chairman of the Foundation's student advisory committee.
After viewing a 1986 film clip of Black students taking over buildings at the University of Michigan, students discussed confrontation and negotiation as means of achieving change in society.
Panelist Joe Choo '89 said that he did not support using violence as a tool to secure demands. Brooke Jewett '91 questioned the appropriateness of the Michigan activists' posters, which showed Malcolm X. with a machine gun over the caption, "By any means necessary."
But one student who displays the poster in his room said he sees "nothing violent about it."
Participants also argued about what constitutes racism. Choo drew a distinction between "tactless" joking and racism, but others said they consider all derogatory remarks about color or origin "racist."
The higher-than-expected turnout pleased organizers, who saw the Winthrop House JCR packed by two or three times as many students as expected.
Philipp Schuller '89 said that the forum did not live up to his expectations of a discussion about the validity of current minority protests.
"It soon turned into another opportunity for minorites to announce their mission," he said. "It became a forum for minorities to educate white people."
But Angela Deaver, the foundation's student project coordinator, said she was "not surprised that everyone's questions weren't answered. America hasn't achieved what it's supposed to. How could we in 90 minutes?"