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FGCU students might have the cure for racism

Education was the core solution discussed at the third Dialogue for Race.

“In that moment, my father was not looked at as a respectable man that went to college,” said Brian Greene, a senior communication major. “He was looked at as a n—– to her, and I was his n—– kid. We really need to educate each other.”

Greene, like many other students performing in Tankei-Aminian’s class’ performance, shared his personal narrative on his experience with racism. Greene recalled going to a hotel with his mother and father when he was younger, being told it was booked and couldn’t stay there.

“As soon as we walked up, the lady behind the counter nastily said, ‘We’re booked,’” Greene said. “And, I wondered why my dad never brought it up again. That was my first experience with racism.”

The students shared their personal experiences and performed several scenes portraying racism. One of them was about a bartender refusing to sell a bottle to a white male because the bartender thought the white male would give it his friend of color.

As the scene ended, Filip Cvjeticanin, an international student in Tankei-Aminian’s course, stayed on the stage after his fellow classmates exited to share his own experience with racism.

“When he said, ‘As long as it’s not for that friend,’ I knew what was going on,” Cvjeticanin said. “It was my first year here, and I didn’t know much about racism. But, now, reflecting back and being educated, I would have said something.”

After the students finished sharing their experiences with racism and acting out the scenes, there was a Q&A with the audience.

“Do you think there will ever be equality among all races?” an audience member asked.

“I think it will keep getting better,” Greene said. “We have to start younger and educate. In elementary school, I could tell you more about the Holocaust than slavery. Nothing against the Holocaust, but why is it that I knew more about Hitler than my own history? I had to go research and educate myself. I don’t think a perfect world, but definitely, a better place.”

“If race is such a big issue, and we don’t know that, that’s horrible,” Cvjeticanin said.

Rosemarie Kirk, a senior communication major, attended the event. Kirk said she was impressed and found herself educated by the students’ performance.

“I learned how little I know,” Kirk said. “I thought I knew a lot, but I learned how little I know in matters of racism and white privilege.”

This theme of educating and being educated was a keynote throughout the students’ reflections and stories. Many of the presenters claimed that before taking the course, they were afraid to speak about it, in fear of saying the wrong thing or offending. However, they learned they need to do just the opposite and talk about it.

By sharing their stories in class with one another, they educated one another on what a day in the life of another student is like, and with this shared knowledge, they now strive to inform others.

“We learn from each other,” Tankei-Aminian said. “As we share our stories on race, we learn to relate to each other in a color-conscious way.”

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