Black or white, you can't ignore it

BY AISLING DOHENY | The Statesman On Wednesday, Dec. 2, Duke Professor and Author Eduardo Bonilla-Silva will be welcomed to UMD to speak on colorblind racism. This event will take place in the Kirby Ballroom and is a part of the African-African American Studies Roundtable events.

“Colorblind racism is, essentially, ignoring race or pretending that you don’t see it in people,” teaching assistant Briana Engh said. “We want people to know that race is something that shouldn’t be ignored but something to celebrate.”

The American Civil Rights course, under the Department of Sociology, is the one behind this program. According to student Lauren Hugh, planning this event has been the brainchild of the course.

“Everyone in class has been working hard,” Hugh said. “Our TA is the one kind of in charge of the event as a whole.”

Briana Engh and Professor Sheryl Grana have been hard at work planning this event since early summer.

“We were discussing something topical that we wanted to learn more about and so we found Eduardo and found that it would be super relevant to this class and today,” Engh said.

Engh and Grana discovered Bonilla-Silva by reading his book, “Racism without Racists.” Bonilla-Silva is renowned for his research in the Latinization of the United States.

According to Engh, she and Grana set their minds to the task and contacted Bonilla-Silva. Bonilla-Silva, then, was more than willing to take up their offer and come to UMD. Bonilla-Silva is welcomed to UMD all the way from Duke University to discuss colorblind racism. This roundtable is the first of its series and is directed almost entirely by students.

“There are about 25 students in the class I would say, and each person was assigned a separate role in planning the event,” said Hugh. “And this class has opened our eyes so much about white privilege and racism today.”

Engh stresses the importance of such conversation.

“Part of the reason this event exists is to bring out the issue of racism today,” she said. “We want people to know that it’s okay to talk about race, it’s okay to talk about things that are hard.”

After the event this Wednesday, another post-discussion will be held on December 7 in Bohannon 90 at 5 p.m. Bridgett Clarke, a student from The American Civil Rights Movement class, will facilitate conversation.

The talk is funded by the UMD Chancellor's Office, College of Liberal Arts, Office of Cultural Diversity and the Departments of Communication, Philosophy, Political Science and Sociology-Anthropology.


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