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The racism discussion should not be limited

March 26, 2015

Racism has occurred in the United States for centuries, and many people have unfortunately been victimized by it.

 

Recently, too many instances of racism being brought to light by the media have caused some universities to try to bring more awareness to this issue.

 

Ryerson University in Toronto recently held an event for the Racialized Students Collective group on campus. Two white student journalists attempted to attend the event to report on it for the school newspaper.

 

When they arrived, the event’s organizers asked the student journalists if they had ever felt victimized by racism. The journalists replied no. The journalists then were asked to leave.

 

They were still allowed to conduct interviews outside of the event, however the request for them to leave caused a bit of a controversy. Many individuals were outraged that the reporters were asked to leave and felt that the RSC showed racism by doing so.

 

The RSC’s motto includes a desire to “create an anti-racist climate on campus that will foster a healthy and rich working learning environment.” By asking fellow students who had not experienced racism to leave, they opened themselves up for criticism and kept interested students who perhaps wanted to assist in stopping racism from attending.

 

It is understandable, however, that the organization wanted to create a comfortable, safe space for students to share their stories and emotions, but perhaps asking students who had not experienced racism to leave was not the answer. An open forum for all to address this sensitive issue may have been a better alternative.

 

We need opportunities to address this and learn from each other to gather ideas, share constructive opinions, and understand various perspectives. To allow one group access and restrict another group in a public setting only prevents the conversation.

 

The students who were asked to leave were journalists attending the event to cover it to share the information with their university community. We assume they had sincere reasons for attending; we hope they were intending to cover it sensitively, objectively and ethically. Granted, we know unfortunately this is not always the case, but we believe this was the student journalists’ goal here.

 

To deny them access to share with others the positive outcomes of the event is to deny the public a chance to discuss this issue and gain a better understanding of our diverse society. We recognize racism is an issue that needs to be addressed – and it should be addressed by all. We recognize that race is an issue that society must face honestly and forthrightly. To deny student journalists full access to the discussion, we feel, was another missed opportunity to bring this needed conversation to the public.

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