On September 30 I attended “Prejudice Today,” a discussion-based event organized by the on campus groups Trinity Progressives and the Trinity Diversity Connection. The main topic of conversation was Islamophobia, a form of prejudice that some feel is a formidable foe in American society. Ahmed Mohamed’s clock case was presented as an example of this type of prejudice towards people of the Islamic faith and also those who are stereotyped as being Islamic because of outward physical characteristics, such as skin color and clothing choice.
Throughout the hour of discourse, panelists and students offered personal experiences of perceived prejudice. These stories, along with questions supplied by Trinity Progressive moderators, were what set the base for discussion. I left the event curious about prejudice directed against Muslims and its possible implications in American society. Yet, I must point out that I also left feeling like important points of discussion had been left out of the dialogue. It seemed as though the general assembly of amassed students felt that Islamophobia was a problem. I believe for the most part that Trinity students understand the negative implications of stereotyping and judging people based solely on their skin color or religion. However, I would have liked to have heard more about how students could be proactive in understanding and combating the deeper implications of a latent discrimination towards Islamic citizens and people in our country. Recently it was announced that the United States would be taking in 25,000 more refugees than its usual quota of refugees over the next few years, and undoubtedly some of them will be Muslim people fleeing tumultuous violence in the Middle East.
I didn’t have a solidified reason for attending the event. I didn’t have a strong opinion on Ahmed’s case or on Islamophobia. Even after the hearing the discourse in its hour-long entirety, discussing the topic with friends and doing some research into the topic since the event, I still don’t have any steadfast opinions on the matter. Yet I’m glad I attended the event because it showed me that meaningful discussions are being held on our campus.
It seems as though students are interested in these types of discussions on political issues. I make that assessment based on the fact that the Woodlawn room was at full capacity for the meeting. On a more personal note, I was thankful to be given the opportunity to hear about prejudice. As a student I understand that there are many political problems, topics and beliefs that I have never been exposed to or personally explored. Prejudice is one of those complex political issues that I would like to learn more about. I feel fortunate to be at a university where these sorts of interests can be discussed amongst fellow students and professors in an open environment. The talk sparked a curiosity in me to learn more about the topic.
As far as the format of the discussion goes, I thought it was good. However, in the future when these types of discussion are held, I feel as if it would be a good idea to have a panel assert some sort of definitive point to present evidence and arguments for. Afterwards, the floor could be opened to the audience for questions and presentations of criticisms or contrasting beliefs.
When the topic of pro-activity came up, one of the first suggestions to be made was to keep the discussion going. I certainly hope this happens. Systematic and latent decimation may be some of the most complex issues facing our country. I have faith that Trinity students will continue to work for better understanding of these complexities, which in turn will create better citizens for all citizens.