With the subject of race being a part of many conversations being had throughout the United States today, the battle for equality in many respects is not over and many within American culture would agree. The progression towards racial equality has always been an uphill battle for minorities. Progress, however, has not stopped.
This is seen clearly through the International Day to Eliminate Racism, as students from the Department of Social Work set up interactive activities to help educate fellow student walking around Atwood Memorial Center. Flyers and pamphlets were handed out to students, all the while educating others on what racism looks like today and how to intervene when something of the sorts takes place.
“The United Nations has this Global Elimination of Racism day, so the social work students and Social Work Association (SWA) has decided to take part in that. We have set up posters; we have a couple activities,” said Karl Johnson, a student of social work at St. Cloud State University.
“We are trying to stimulate discussion on racism and the kind of race issues we face here in St. Cloud and just things that we can do to take a stand against it. If you look at the last ten to fifteen years in St. cloud there has been an influx of immigrants, particularly from East Africa.” Johnson went on to mention that St. Cloud had just experienced a walkout due to racism against Somali children at St. Cloud Tech about a year ago.
“If that’s not a signal of racism in St. Cloud then I don’t know what is, if a community can’t treat its students equally, now you are talking about institutional racism right there,” Johnson said.
Many would agree that being hands-on when teaching about topics such as racism is a very informative way to make a visual point, and that is exactly what the students behind the event wanted to convey.
“It’s a hand-on approach to elimination of discrimination and racism, so they have a bunch of lines that are on the ground and we kind of ask them simple questions about privileges or things that they may not get, and it’s to see who is front and who is behind and you can pinpoint who is privileged and who is not,” said Haley Dillan, a Masters student in Social Work at St. Cloud State University.
Racism, being as prevalent as Johnson described, can be difficult for communities to grasp. However, efforts have been continuing since before the beginning of the day to eliminate hate globally.
“The biggest thing that we kind have come to is talking about it. A majority of our classes its one of those hard conversations and no one wants to talk about it but once you talk about it, you understand what’s going on and that it is out there and that we are kind of trying to push it away but we really need to talk about it,” said Dillan.