I read with
great interest both the article “Bridging the great divide” and the student
letters in response to it.
As a professor who grew up in NYC and taught at a HBCU, I
am not surprised that such a divide exists.
Since so many students seem interested in bridging it, I
would like to make a few simple suggestions.
1. Next time you see a group of students from a different
background gathered together, go introduce yourself and ask to join them.
There are plenty of things you can talk about. After all, you are all students here.
2. Attend an event that is supposedly designed to attract
people from a "different" background.
There are plenty of musicians from all racial backgrounds
who perform different forms of music that tend to be more associated with a
3. Understand that "race" is a manmade
category, not a biological one. It was developed specifically so we could
discriminate against those who are different.
If you refuse to get caught up in the "race
game" you will have one
less reason for segregating yourself.
Some of the vilest humans ever to walk the face of the earth —Hitler
comes to mind — used the concept of
racial superiority to their advantage.
4. Think of yourself as an American without a hyphen and show
respect for everyone's heritage.
Before you say that you already do this, ask yourself why
blacks refer to themselves as "African-Americans" and those of us
with European ancestors as "white".
There is neither a country nor a continent known as
"White" so I cannot be from there.
5. If you really want to have a conversation about race,
seek out an organization or even just a professor to get things going for
You might even be curious enough to find out where my
office is and come
chat with me. Who knows, we might just
both learn something
important about the topic.
Finally, remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King,
Jr., "Our lives
begin to end the day we remain silent about things that
matter." If you are silent, is it because your life is ending or does this
issue just not matter to you?
Dr. Eric Heinrich
Assistant Professor of