Diversity; it is a word that has been thrown around campus a great deal lately, due to the apparent lack of it.
According to the California State University statistical abstract for Sonoma State University, our student body is 68 percent White, 12 percent Latino, 5 percent Asian/Pacific Islander, 2 percent African American, and 1 percent American Indian. These percentages compared to other CSU's make SSU one of the least diverse campus in the state.
"SSU is really missing out with its lack of diversity," said junior, Jacqui Jordan. "If SSU embraced more cultures, I feel that there would be less over-generalized stereotypes of different ethnic groups and more getting to know the individual, rather than the skin color."
Last Thursday in SSU's gymnasium, a well-known speaker on anti-racism, Tim Wise, came to speak as part of a heritage lecture series put on by Associated Students Productions (ASP).
Wise, a white male who is among the most respected anti-racist writers and educators in the United States, has spoken in 48 states and on over 400 college campuses. The turn out for this event estimated to almost 1,000 students and faculty combined. It was so large in fact, that the line to get in reached as far back as the Commons building next to the ponds.
"To see that many people interested in this subject matter really shows that SSU students care about our lack of diversity on campus and want to change that," said senior, Evan Gerhardt. "It is something that is interesting because no one really talks about it, yet it is still prevalent in today's society."
Most often, when the subject of race or any form of racism is brought up, it tends to be an uncomfortable topic for most. Tim Wise, however, wants to break that taboo and bring awareness to the problems still prevalent in our nation.
"We are conditioned from an early age to have racist thoughts," said Wise. "It breaks into our home even with the security alarm set…it seeps in with the media we watch and the society we observe."
Wise presented the facts last Thursday. He presented that the average white family in the United States has 11 times more wealth than an African American family and eight times more wealth than a Latino family living in America today. The reason behind this, according to Wise, is that getting a job is harder for people of color even though they are just as qualified with a college degree. This means that there are still racial problems or racial barriers lingering from our nation's past.
"His speech was very eye-opening for me," said Gerhardt. "Although I'd like to believe that the world isn't full of hatred, the fact is, racial stereotypes are still around, people still believe them, and it is still hurting people, it's hurting our nation."
Wise's very energetic and passionate speaking ability captivated the audience and opened the eyes of many students about the racism that still exists-yet no one acknowledges.
One thing that Wise did want to clear up was that he was not anti-white.
"I love me some white people," said Wise, "I love my wife-she's white. I love my kids-they're white. But the point is, it's not about the color…it's this ‘whiteness' that is the problem."
This ‘whiteness' he talks about is the dominant racially white wealthy class that suppresses minorities from raising the glass ceiling.
Wise brought an issue that is generally taboo to light last Thursday in his speech.
He brought the awareness that this issue still exists, and that just because no one talks about it, does not mean that nothing should be done about it.