Mar. 24, 2017

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Kalamazoo, MI

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Est. 1877

Diversity

Lecture Highlights Racial Injustice

Dr. Lisa Brock [Photo courtesy of Lisa Brock] Dr. Lisa Brock [Photo courtesy of Lisa Brock]
By

For students who have grown up in the United States, the nation’s history of racism and systematic oppression is well known. With encouragement from the Center for International Programs (CIP), Professor Lisa Brock presented a discussion of this unjust past to first-year international students.

Titled “Myths, Stereotypes, and the Other[ed],” the lecture last Wednesday was deemed necessary, “because when students protested for an ethnic studies major, and an Intercultural Center, international students were often left confused, not knowing the history of African Americans, Latinx Americans, First Nation Americans, and Asian Americans,” Brock wrote via email.

The lecture presented misconceptions about race in the U.S., providing historical context as well as explaining their inaccuracies. The stereotype of “Black Americans not wanting to work” was raised, followed by a discussion of the ways in which the education system and employers continue to discriminate against African Americans.

Asian Americans still face invasive questions regarding their “country of origin,” even if they are sixth generation Americans. Brock described this as the “perpetual foreigner” myth, and discussed the history of oppression and exclusion of Asian Americans in the U.S.

For Latinx communities, it is often assumed that members are undocumented or somehow illegal. However, Brock explained that the American southwest was a part of Mexico before the U.S. annexed it following the Mexican-American War. “So many Latinx say ‘we didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us,’” she said.

This year the CIP collaborated with the Intercultural Center, and Brock noticed more faculty members and domestic students in attendance in addition to first year international students. Brock firmly believes that being armed with historical facts will allow everyone, not just those who may be new to the American tradition of oppression, to combat stereotypes.

She cited recent comments by the Trump campaign chairperson of Ohio, which were riddled with stereotypes about African Americans.

“Had she heard such a lecture while a student, she would not have said what she said, or know that she was being dishonest and disingenuous and racist when she said it,” Brock said.

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