Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Reflections on Race

LIEP Instructor Christina Indovina
LIEP Student Grciela Rodriguez
The Loyola Intensive English Program (LIEP) Culture Class, taught by LIEP instructor Christina Indovina, has been exploring the various cultural groups that make New Orleans such a culturally rich city. The class has explored the early inhabitants of New Orleans--French, Spanish, Native American Indians (largely of the Houma Nation), African Americans (both slaves and free people of color)--as well as the current cultural communities of such groups as African Americans, Native Houma people, IsleƱos, Latinos, Vietnamese, whites of European ancestry.

As part of this on-going theme, the Culture Class has looked at race and what race has meant in the United States. As Christina says, "This topic is of particular importance in New Orleans because not only did the city once support a large slave population, but it also was home to large communities of Creoles and free people of color. As part of this exploration, our Culture Class went to the U.S. Mint in the French Quarter to view an exhibition titled 'RACE: Are we really so different?'" The exhibit contends that there is no physiological or DNA evidence for race, but that race is an invention of human minds. Race is a way that humans assign meaning to certain differences in physical appearance.

Below, LIEP student Graciela Rodriguez of Venezuela shares her experience of the exhibit: "RACE: Are we really so different?"

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REFLECTIONS ON RACE by Graciela Rodriguez

History has shown us that people are different, so different that we had a world war because one person thought his race was better. Countries have fought bloody civil wars because of these differences, and many people have died. But are we that different? Who was the first to say that some race is better than another? What is race?

I don't know. We might look different on the outside because of the color of our skin or the shape of our eyes but we are all humans. Sometimes we forget that we already belong to a common group when we segregate ourselves. What we are doing is separating each one of us from the others. It is like a bag of candies--all the pieces are candies, different colors, different flavors, but all candies from the same factory.

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Thank you, Graciela Rodriguez, for these important thoughts about race, and thank you, Christina Indovina, for raising this important issue in the Culture Class and for arranging this visit to the exhibit "RACE: Are we really so different?"

Our next post will introduce you to the common book that all three LIEP Reading Classes are currently reading--ZEITOUN by Dave Eggers. ZEITOUN tells the true story of the Zeitoun family during and after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. To prepare for reading this book, the LIEP Reading Classes recently came together to watch the Hurricane Katrina documentary STILL WAITING. The book ZEITOUN and the documentary STILL WAITING will be the subject of our next post.

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