By DALIA SALLOUM, Staff Writer
On February 7, the University of Michigan-Dearborn welcomed professor and the Vice Provost for Diversity and Senior Adviser to the Chancellor at the University of Illinois-Chicago, Dr. Tyrone Forman, to speak on the social issue of prejudice in a series of lectures called “The Conversation on Race.”
Because the UM-Dearborn prides itself on an extremely diverse body of students, Dr. Forman found it enlightening to perform a lecture about the subtle ways in which the face of prejudice has shifted.
“I knew about the diversity of the students on campus, and the leadership from the Office for Student Engagement and I was interested in coming and learning about what you are doing here so I can take these lessons back to my own institution to learn from these experiences there,” said Forman.
In his spare time, Forman studies prejudice, social divisions of race, and the shift it has made since more recent movements to equalize the rights of all groups. Forman has found that in his research prejudice and antagonism meet each other in the same path, not only in mental form, but rather in the ways they are physically exhibited in the behaviors of people who interact with each other on a daily basis.
“We typically think of prejudice as expressions of hostility, and what I am arguing is that in this moment, the way in which prejudice is articulated is whether it is through expressions of hostility or expressions of indifference,” said Forman.
Living in a generation that is highly influenced by social media and other means of entertainment, it is often believed that the younger generation has engaged themselves in a behavior of greater acceptance to cultural, religious, moral, racial differences. The study of sociology and Forman’s research has uncovered that this “indifference” and acceptance of these issues can sometimes be clothed, and trivial, nonetheless.
“We tend to equate prejudice with hostility, but in fact it can also be equated with indifference,” Forman said. “In our society, there is a growing sentiment among many that we don’t care about racial inequities, partly because we believe the inequities that continue to exist are the result of people making bad choices.”
This has definitely made students who attended the lecture truly think about whether or not their views are views of sincere acceptance, or merely just a way for them to avoid issues that have gained such extreme popularity over the course of many years since popular culture has given them an outlet to come to grips with living in such a diverse community.
With the election of President Barack Obama in 2008, and the popularity of artists, actors, and pop culture icons, it is understood that in some ways, racial division has disintegrated into the lines of recognition that the “races” of the world all amount to be just one race. But because so many people of the younger generation pay more attention to the media and virtual lessons through broadcasts, the lack of interaction can cause a lack of a filter and a lack of an acceptance for racial division, and a growing dispiritedness for the matter instead.
“In many ways, what my research has uncovered is the fact that that idea is very much a mythology. In fact what has happened, is it is true that the younger generation is different, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are better. And I think in fact what you see with younger people over the last 30 years, have expressed growing racial apathy,” Forman said.
UM-Dearborn, located in a predominantly diverse area, has had a great advantage over universities located in other regions because of its extremely distinct range of races, cultures, religions, and beliefs. Because of this, and the leadership exhibited from administrative offices, a division of these aspects is virtually unrecognizable, because of the frequent interaction between the students.
“There are these icons of black success, Asian success, Latino success, and partly because we are a segregated society, we gain our knowledge of success through others and not through direct experiences, which I think a lot of students here at UM-Dearborn are given more of an opportunity to do so because you have such a diverse student body, and not all college students have that,” Forman continued.
The effect of Dr. Forman’s lecture was mainly to sound an alarm to the younger generation, because this is our future. A growing racial apathy can be prevented from a greater interest in interaction between races, and will result in the suppression of prejudice.
Dr. Forman’s lecture was held in the Fairlane Center North and was sponsored by the Office for Student Engagement and the Office for the Chancellor.