By Brianna Guillory
If told the phrase “When I look at you, I only see a person,” there are two ways that the phrase can be interpreted as. More often than not, the phrase can be taken as a means of flattery to show that the person speaking treats all skin colors equal. However, the phrase can also be perceived as something else entirely.
Black Student Union vice president, Alby Ungashe, says the term that the phrase is portraying is known as ‘color blind rhetoric.’ According to theroot.com, Duke University sociology professor Eduardo Bonilla-Silva defined colorblind rhetoric as “a racial ideology that expresses itself in seemingly non-racial terms.”
“Colorblind rhetoric I believe is really damaging. It teaches people to ignore not only the color, but your culture, your history, your oppression, your advantages, the things that are good about you and the things that need help. Everything about you is ignored,” Ungashe said.
Although race can often be a hot topic, it is recognized to be an important factor in society. However, the term “race” can be perceived as vague and usually adopts more acceptable names such as “ethnicity” or “culture.”
Muslim Student Association president Fatima Elgarguri questioned the term race and described it as arbitrary.
“What is race? I can define culture. I can define ethnicity, like what country your parents are from. But what is race? What is it?” Elgarguri said.
Although Elgarguri finds the word “race” to be a strange term, she does agree that having racial diversity in the world is important and inevitable. In fact, it’s embedded into her religion of Islam.
“There is this verse in the Quran that says that God is saying that he created us into different nations and tribes so that you may get to know each other,” she said.
For both Ungashe and Elgarguri, diversity of cultures is something that holds strong importance for the human race and believes that it builds a stronger society. According to Elgarguri it is better have variety as opposed to one homogenous race.
However, because of the diversity among all cultures, a world where there is truly no racism seems improbable for the future.
Las Positas counselor and co-advisor for BSU Celestine Rowe said, “As long as people are stereotyping there’s always going to be some kind of judgemental racism whether it’s against the culture or the gender.
According to Elgaguri, a big part of racism is fear or lack of understanding, with humans naturally being averse to what is different from them. Rowe compares this scenario to being in the doctor’s office and preferring to be seen by a physician of the same sex. Because they are the same sex, the physician would have a better understanding of the patient’s body.
Although Rowe believes that Las Positas is pushing in the right direction for diversity, she believes that the school could push a little further.
“I also think that having employees (such as) faculty, staff, instructors of different diversities brings about more students. Because when you see people that are like you then people feel more comfortable. It shouldn’t be that way but thats the way it is,” she said.
What Rowe suggests is for students to integrate themselves with clubs such as BSU, MSA and Indian club and that there should be more student clubs like those in order to educate others about their culture.
Likewise, Ungashe encourages clubs to hold events that educate others about their ethnicity.
“Because we’re on this earth and we’re so diverse. So many histories and cultures. And so much beauty in everybody,” Ungashe said.
Rowe and Elgaguri also encourage students to seize the opportunity and take classes that educate about diversity.
“I was in Cultural Anthropology class and people learn so much just from that class, like engaging more with other people outside of their race. They learned so much and they became less racist because of that class,” Elgaguri said.
Las Positas also offers Psych 10, which focuses primarily on multi-cultural psychology.
“For racism to end seeing color is what we need,” Ungashe said. “We need to see every aspect of each other and embrace and love it.”