Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Diversity Requires a Blending of Perspectives

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Diversity Requires a Blending of Perspectives

Article excerpt

Diversity Requires a Blending Of Perspectives.

When it comes to discussing racial issues in America, whites see one reality, Blacks see another. So wrote Mark Whitaker in a Nov. 15, 1993 Newsweek article, "White and Black."

Presuming Whitaker to be even minimally correct, there is much to be said for having African Americans in newsrooms to offer perspective on news stories that may not be shared by their white colleagues. For if there is any workplace where the divergence of opinion on race-related matters shows itself almost regularly, it is among those who determine our daily dosage of news and information.

The obvious contention here is that the presence of African Americans in decision-making position in the newsrooms will foster sensitivity to the reportage of race-related news stories. Newspapers and newscasts would offer more thoughtful coverage of such issues and perhaps offer whites and Blacks the opportunity to cultivate some common understanding on such issues. Some would argue that just having the media not contribute to racial divisiveness would be a notable achievement.

Yet for some African-American professionals, even discussing matters of race with white colleagues is often difficult. "That Blacks and whites have a hard time talking straight about their grievances only makes matters worse," Whitaker wrote. "Blacks don't want to speak for fear of being labeled difficult. Whites keep their gripes to themselves lest they appear politically incorrect."

To combat the mendacity that often dilutes discussions about race, some newsrooms have developed diversity training sessions to help staff develop more sensitivity to multicultural issues. Yet even these sessions are only as good as the participants want them to be. If such sessions are to be successful, honesty, among Blacks and whites, is vital.

For African Americans who are new to the workplace, expecting honesty on high-charged issues can present an unenviable position. Having to wonder about appearing difficult to one group and passive to another can prove awkward.

One place where African-Americans should be getting thoughtful opportunities to discuss racially-related issues is college. This is particularly true for students graduating from historically Black colleges and universities because it is likely they will be called upon for their perspectives. …

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