Race matters. In the year 2016 we want to believe that we are in a post-racial era. However, race matters. We believe that somehow maintaining a façade of colorblindness makes us more inclusive. Yet, race still matters.
I, like many others in this community, am a transplant. I hail from the city of Detroit in the great state of Michigan. I have lived in State College for the past nine years and have had a wonderful experience in this community. I have made a home for myself and have filled my life with some of the most phenomenal people on this planet who are also located right here in State College. Even still, race matters.
Because of my love of difference, I became an educator and one of my gifts is the ability to create the space for authentic conversations around difference, specifically race. It amazes me that we are still afraid to talk about race. In a world of political correctness, the unintentional side effect of that is that we have rendered people invisible. I often think to myself when I walk into a meeting if people realize that I am the only person of color in the room and what might that experience feel like. Or when I walk into a store and notice that I’m the only person of color in the store and when people ask me, can I help you find something, I have to take a second and think, are they offering their help because they truly want to assist me or are they offering to assist me so they can keep their eyes on me. You see, being a person of color in this town causes me to think about these things.
I am often in conversation with individuals and hear comments such as, we need to stop focusing so much on race and that racism is only alive because we keep talking about it, etc. The fact of the matter is that because we are not talking about it, things continue to happen and go unnoticed… or so we think. I hear all the time that people need to stop seeing color. I certainly understand the intention behind that statement; however, if you look at me and do not see that I am a black man then something is wrong with you. The real question is when you see that I am a black man, what does it mean to you?
Moses Davis is the director of the Multicultural Resource Center on the Penn State campus.
IF YOU GO
What: Let’s Talk About Race — For a Change
When: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Feb. 27
Where: Easterly Parkway Elementary School, 234 Easterly Parkway, State College
More info: Preregister at www.scasd.org/Page/401