Latina Voices held a forum to discuss racism locally and abroad as part of Latino Heritage Month. A diverse group of about twenty students engaged in the discussion to provide insight and differing viewpoints.
The group began by discussing the definition of racism. Through general consensus,the group concluded that racism, “is if you have the power over someone to effect change in someone’s life.”
The group then had to determine the breakdown of race and concluded it is not a necessary distinction among people.
“We are bringing it upon ourselves. You’re black, you’re white. Black doesn’t exist, white doesn’t exist,” said Kendra Santos.
As for racism at Temple, the students involved in the discussion see separation among the races.
“I can see racism more at Temple than at Hartford,” said Kristi De Simone, a native of Hartford, Connecticut.”Temple is segregated, a certain group is here, another race is there.”
Joseph Gonzales brought it to the group’s attention that there are no rules to segregate students.
“This is self-segregation, it is not imposed,” Gonzales said.
De Simone proved Gonzales’ point by saying she is an example by judging her own friends.
“I went to people that look like me,” she said.
Chi Lim explained her opinion on the topic.
“You want to belong, so you go to people you can associate with,” Lim said.
Lim then further elaborated as to why students tend to associate with certain people over others.
“You don’t go to a deep level from someone you can’t understand,” Lim said.
De Simon, however, does appreciate Temple’s diversity.
“It is like the United Nations here,” De Simone said.
Ginny Barahona, the leader of the discussion and President of the Class Coalition of Latin-American Students, was alarmed at how Temple perceived its diverse group of students.
“When I first came to Temple, people looked through me like I didn’t even exist,” Barahona said.
Santos concurred with Barahona as she recalled her early experiences at Temple.
“When I came here, there was no one I could identify with,” said Santos.
Santos is from Cape Verde, which is located off the coast of Africa.
“I am not black or white, I am Cape Verdian,” said Santos. But when Santos found no one at Temple from Cape Verde, she decided to classify herself as simply West African.
“I guess I am going to be West African because no one is Cape Verdian,” saidSantos.
While some students expressed that Philadelphia and Temple are both places where anyone can be accepted among their peer groups, some saw an alarming division.
“Philly is backwards,” De Simone said. “People are nice to their own kind.”
The group also blamed the media for the way society portrays different races.
“Media is often run by people not of color,” Gonzales said. “You must get in those positions, and stand up for what you feel is right.”
The group focused on the inner-self and encouraged one another to stand up for themselves.
“A lot of people see you as a lot of things, but you have to see yourself,” said Mary Martha.
The next meeting of the Latina Voices will be October 23, at 12:30pm, in room 422, Anderson Hall.