Eddings: Race education vital to mending racial tensions

Raychelle Eddings

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board. 

America’s history has never been kind to minorities.

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The country has been gradually moving towards equality between races, especially in the last century. Compared to the 1700’s we have made tremendous steps for African-Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and other races to finally have rights that their white counterparts had. Lately, the advancement has grinded to a halt.

On August 11th and 12th a white nationalist rally took place in Charlottesville, Virginia yelling slogans like “Blood and soil!” “You will not replace us!” and “Jews will not replace us!” Understandably, the rally shook the United States, particularly its minority occupants. Many minorities were already on edge when President Trump was elected because of his rhetoric, and this event only supports that disdain. The curtsey of white nationalists and nazi’s to hide has disappeared, and it is even affecting Colorado State University’s campus.

On August 19th a paper mache noose was found hanging by the stairs of Newsom hall at Colorado State University just a week after the Charlottesville incident. The noose was hanging in a hall that had only one black student, Elijah Thomas whom believed the incident specifically targeted him. CSU is a particularly tolerant university, advocating for the rights for free speech and encouraging students to be imaginative with their ideas. But, when incidents like this happen on campus, actions must be taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again. The best way to ensure this is through education.

Like most universities, CSU has AUCC courses (All University Core Curriculum). These classes are required of all majors in order to graduate. Amongst CSU’s AUCC courses is a requirement for a social and behavioral science course, and a global and cultural awareness course. These are the only categories that hold courses with race relations, but the class specifically is not required. In light of the events at Charlottesville and it’s reach into the CSU campus, the university should implement a change to the AUCC courses requiring that all students take some sort of race relations course.

Racism, white nationalism, and bigotry are not characteristics you are born with, they are socialized behaviors. Most of these behaviors are picked up from the environment you are most surrounded by, usually your family. Parent’s are the most likely cause for children picking up discriminatory tendencies that may continue on until adulthood. But parents can’t be chosen. The way they teach their children is in their right as their parent, and there is little to nothing that can be done about it. Schools on the other hand can make a difference. Requiring students to confront the reality of racism is well within schools rights as long as they are not infringing on free speech.

Many history classes do well in teaching students what happened to many of the minority races in our country. At some point in a student’s life they will be taught about slavery, the Civil War, WWI, WWII, and Martin Luther King Jr., which is needed for a baseline understanding of what minorities have had to suffer through. However, that’s where the classes stop. Most education does not take the extra step needed for the student to relate and understand on a deeper level what went wrong in our society that allowed for this painful discrimination.

Race relation’s classes can take that extra step to confront the problem head on. While history classes will teach what happened, the race relation’s course will teach why it was wrong and encourage the student to participate in the thought process. Additionally it will create a opportunity for minorities to speak within the class about their personal experiences.  

Most racist people aren’t inherently bad, they are simply ignorant. School is the only way outside of the home that can combat that ignorance with knowledge. Once students have all the information, it is up to them to make a change in their behavior. Students can’t be expected to make that change all by themselves. Requiring students to be exposed to the dialogue in a race relation’s class can open so many doors so we can finally move towards an understanding.

The fact is, the country is under intense racial pressure right now. The Charlottesville riots have given a face to all the fears that many minorities had hoped were in their heads. Combined with the angst of police brutality, we are at a turning point. A race relations class can begin to steer the us the right way.

Raychelle Eddings can be reached at letters@collegian and online at @raybean14.

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