November 30, 2007

Race and reconciliation discussion set for Dec. 3

by Eric Welch

CARBONDALE, Ill. — What is a color complex? Why doesn't assimilation equal reconciliation? Is a colorblind society possible or desirable? These questions and many more will be up for discussion during Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Race and Reconciliation Day Panel on Monday, Dec. 3.

The panel discussion, free and open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. in Student Center Ballroom B. Organizers encourage audience members to come with questions pertaining to race, difference, similarity and steps for creating a better society. Throughout the evening, the audience will have the opportunity to participate in the discussion with the panel in order to bring all concerns and points of view to light.

"We want to raise awareness of diversity in the community," said Carl Ervin, coordinator of SIUC Student Development-Multicultural Programs and Services. "We hope that people will gain an appreciation and value of the diverse backgrounds here, and instead of looking at differences, we hope that we can ask what our similarities are."

The panel will include faculty and students with diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Keynote speaker and panel member, Derek Martin, an assistant professor of sociology at SIUC, will express the struggles of being of mixed race and how to change society's perspectives.

"This is a tough issue," Ervin said, "especially with America's history of slavery and discrimination, but we want to achieve reconciliation by discussing our similarities and realizing that we're all Americans."

Delta Xi Phi Multicultural Sorority, the first multicultural Greek organization at SIUC, is sponsoring the panel discussion. The sorority strives to assist women of different backgrounds in higher education while being committed to community service and diversity.