Monday, May 6, 2013

How courtesy can counter this culture of extreme rudeness on campuses

The other day during a discussion with friends and family, the topic of racist people came up. It was a well-balanced and constructive discussion, and the conclusion I came up with, was one that had been obvious to my family for a long time; I deal with racists folks very well, it is those that are rude that set me off.
Let me clarify.
Not to pick on the south (but I will), if I go to Mississippi, I expect a certain amount of ‘old racial’ values to persist, I expect to hear certain racial epithets, I expect to be looked at with suspicion in certain situations. While I wish we lived in a world that did not still have such ignorance, it does not bother me because my experience is those folks will still be polite about it. Funny eh? Polite racists! However, the simple attempt at courtesy makes a difference.  They are not pretending to be something that they are not, there is no ‘back stabbing’.
Here is are a couple articles that describes the kind of rudeness I despise:
1.       “Dealing With Racism on College Campuses”
“Because of her Muslim surname, classmates often asked Mohamed if her family was religious. When she explained that they weren't, her classmates routinely expressed relief. "Oh, good, 'cause I know how crazy they can be," they said”.
2.      “Racism tears through Providence College”
“They say that minority students are followed by security officers in places such as the bookstore and have been called racial epithets by other students, and that the N-word was written in a dorm bathroom last year”.
“Ben Alves, 22, a junior from Boston, said he and two friends who are also minorities were recently asked to show their IDs while playing basketball at the gym, though they had already swiped them to get in. He said white students weren’t asked to do the same”.
My biggest issue here is that colleges are supposed to be places of learning; ignorance is supposed to be low on the list, and the willingness to embrace diversity and differences should be at the top (mere tolerance will not do). When people or institutions seem to go out of their way to make you feel unwelcome it bothers me. When rude behavior is rewarded (such as sports coaches against players) and those who report this behavior are censured, then we need to admit change is necessary. The end does not justify the means.
Please try to foster an environment of extreme courtesy on your campus (genuine courtesy) and I guarantee you will see positive changes.
We are trying to teach students to be successful I the future correct?
Dr Flavius A B Akerele III
The ETeam

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