2013-14 Race and Ethnicity
Race and Ethnicity in America: Celebration, Struggle, Opportunity
During the 2013-14 academic year, we focused on celebrating the particular contributions and experiences of people from varied races and ethnicities.
At the same time, we explored the ongoing struggle in the United States, including our region and our campus, toward equally welcoming people from all racial and ethnic backgrounds. For instance, what do we mean when we use the word "community?" Who is typically included and who is excluded? How do we create a genuinely welcoming community?
Throughout the year, we sought to respond to the challenges before us and identify new opportunities to celebrate our racial and ethnic diversity in ways that help us build more welcoming communities in our region and beyond.
Special guest speakers included Lorene Cary, author of "Black Ice", required reading for first year students; United States Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, whose mother attended Bluffton 50 years ago; the reigning Miss America Nina Davuluri and many others.
Author opens race discussion
Lorene Cary, author of the required summer reading, Black Ice, spoke at Opening Convocation . Her introduction to a prestigious New England prep school in 1972 was similar in some ways to the welcome afforded first-year Bluffton students, the author told the students that morning.
Found family connections
United States Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey may have taken the first step toward understanding her mother in Bluffton, Ohio. She said as much following an Oct. 15 lecture at Bluffton University, where her late mother, Gwendolyn Ann Turnbough, attended college 50 years ago.
Story of hope
The native of Germany told her story of surviving the Holocaust to visiting high school students and community members, as well as Bluffton faculty, staff and students. And she reminded her youngest listeners that they will be the last generation to hear her, and her peers', stories firsthand.
Institutionalized profiling of Muslims is undermining American democracy, a leader of Cleveland's Islamic community said.
Work for peace
Sister Paulette Schroeder "put her feet where her mouth was," by joining a Christian Peacemaker Teams delegation to the Middle East and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
In recognition of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., five Bluffton University faculty and staff members reflected on the death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin; the trial of the accused killer, George Zimmerman; and how race still matters in America.
Stories of immigration
The moderator of Mennonite Church USA told of experiences from elementary school in Chicago — where her family had moved from Puerto Rico — and what she called a "stolen" educational foundation.
Arvis Averette recalled the 1963 March on Washington, saying "the most controversial issue we had" was a call for a minimum wage of $2 per hour.
To help illustrate "why racism still exists and that getting over it isn't really that simple," Dr. Crystal Sellers Battle showed a video in which a white haircutter faces prejudice in a Harlem barbershop, and shared two personal "shopping while black" stories.
Nina Davuluri, the reigning Miss America and the first of Indian-American descent, brought her message of multiculturalism as keynote speaker for the university's annual civic engagement day.