Diversity is more than just race
How would I define myself? There are so many experiences in my life that make me different. I’m an atheist; I’m low-income; I come from a town with more cows than people; I spent a semester in Italy; I’m overweight and I have seven siblings (five adopted). I’m also white.
It seems that at CU recently, that last little fact means that I contribute nothing to the diversity of the campus. My Irish-Italian heritage is not something to have pride in, but rather, the thing that makes me the same as everyone else.
The Campus Press was under fire last month when we held our open forum to discuss diversity in the media. Audience and panelist members asked the staff to undergo measures to recruit more diverse reporters. However, through the afternoon, the discussion rarely hit the true issue of diversity. Rather, the conversation remained on race. A staff made up of white reporters, they contended, could not know diversity or discrimination.
True, the Campus Press newsroom does not exactly look like the United Nations. According to the CU website, 78.3 percent of undergrads in 2007 identified themselves as Caucasian. The Campus Press is not proportionate to the larger campus population, containing an even larger percentage of Caucasian students. There is little racial diversity within our staff, which, by all means, would be a welcome change. However, this assumption that we are all the same based upon a shared European heritage is offensive, to say the least. We hold varying ideologies, religions, socio-economic statuses, and family lives, among other things. We each hold different life experiences that contribute to our perspective, which is sometimes reflected in our work.
Discrimination is a bane that we all share. Growing up in a Christian America, I have been subject to spiritual judgment throughout my entire life. I can assure you that being told you’re going to burn in Hell just never grows old. Being fat has also been an uphill battle, especially while living in Boulder. I am treated differently because of it, with the common perception being that I must be disgusting and stupid to live like this.
And yes, even I have experienced racism. In elementary school, it was not uncommon for my peers to laugh at me and other white students because of our pale skin, our freckles or our lack of Spanish skills. Racism can come from all sides, even in childhood. I will not claim that my experience is equivalent to the racism that many minorities deal with in the United States every day. But the contention that anyone may be safe from discrimination, simply because their skin is white, is absolutely ludicrous.
I define myself by more than just my skin color, but I can’t deny that it is a part of my identity, because it certainly has an impact on my perception of the world. Diversity is not limited to the color of our skin, but rather, the experiences and knowledge we bring to everything we do.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Danielle Alberti at Alberti@colorado.edu