In this previous class we had a guest speaker speak to us about diversity. Mohammed Bey, who is the Director for Multicultural Education began the class by asking us our names and what came to mind when we thought of the term “diversity.” Immediately I thought of Quinnipiac University’s orientation because they were very avid on us coming together as new students to join the community. Thus, I viewed diversity as “different people coming together.” After sharing with one another our definitions, we then stood up to play a game. The game was called “Traffic Jam.”
Traffic game consisted of around 12 pieces of pink paper all lined up on the ground in a line. Half of the people looked towards the door, and the other half faced those. Additional rules were also provided. People who were wearing black simply were not allowed to talk just because. Mohammed then picked two others who could look nowhere but down. These obstacles made communication very difficult. Our team struggled and no matter what route we took, or how close we may have been, we found no solution.
After discussing the game with the class, we came to the conclusion that diversity can cause confusion and create conflict. For instance, if someone ventures to a new country, they may be faced with the language barrier and can not speak. Others may have disabilities inhibiting them from seeing, or other difficulties. This activity made me think of a populated and diverse community that was trying to go about their everyday business. It does not always relate to race, but also can incorporate disabilities.
Much similarly, we were asked to recall a time or event in our lives where we were faced with a situation we found to be racist, but the party involved did not. A time I recalled was when my Jewish friends were joking with one another using Holocaust jokes. I can not quite remember the joke but I remember thinking to myself, “you can’t say that!” However, these individuals did not believe it was racist, perhaps because they were making the joke about themselves and their heritage. Perhaps if it was an outsider making the joke who was not in fact Jewish, then it may have been different and they may have viewed it as racist like I had.
Bey then discussed the process of social construction and how people’s views are actually formed. As he created a diagram to describe this, I tried to recall back to my own life and see what/when I learned things.
We start off as the star, and then grow to 5-10 years old. In this time span, our teachers, friends, and parents are the only ones really modeling our social construction. Through this young stage, we watch what others around us are doing and follow in their footsteps. He then sends us to our next age group which is around the teenage years. In this development stage, the church and media are beginning to take on a role in helping to form one’s social construction. Personally, I was able to relate to this stage and remember it quite well. As you get older you are more able to understand the church well. Additionally, media is more integrated into your life as a teenager. Songs and movies were able to allow me to create a social construction regarding certain races and genders, for I was not exposed to very much diversity growing up. Although I was not able to create constructions based solely on my experience, I used clips in the media to do so. This is exactly where Bey’s point lies. After teens go through the influence of media and church, they are then able to form their own social construction based off of what they learn. Thus, many lead to racist/discriminatory thoughts or they become conscious of such thoughts and stay neutral.
Mohammed’s visit to the class was a nice reminder of race and the difference types of people that exist in the world. Also, it is important to know that people have opinions of others that may be negative. Very seldom do we put ourselves in other people’s shoes and recognize the struggles people face. Through the game we played, I experienced difficulties and was able to relate them to the challenges minorities and other groups face throughout their life. Additionally it prepared us to what we might encounter when we travel to South Africa.