Kristina Kaufmann – Photo Edtior
Ken Hardy, a distinguished Donahue Scholar, spoke to students and faculty in deWitt Hall on October 2.
His speech encouraged students to be more aware of race and talk about it freely without feeling uncomfortable.
“Race is one of the most difficult things to talk about, it has us walking on egg shells,” said Hardy.
Hardy is an international author, professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia and director of the Elkenberg Institute for Relationships in New York City. He spoke about his opinions and concepts to help people become more comfortable about race. Hardy said that we need skill and will to be able to talk about race; some of us have will, but not skill.
He encouraged the audience to learn how to have the skills to navigate conversations about race, but to first think about where they lie personally with race. Hardy gave his thoughts on how being racially different from others effects how much a person signifies with race, touching upon this by sharing how he thought many people view race.
“If I am not racist, then racism doesn’t exist,” said Hardy, who pointed out that this is not the way to think of race.
During Hardy’s speech, he turned the microphone over to the students and faculty sitting in the audience to engage them in a discussion that presented many different opinions. From those questions stemmed discussion about children and race, affirmative action and interracial couples.
“Affirmative action is a very touchy subject. Although students have opinions, they might feel uncomfortable discussing race. [Hardy’s] mission is to get people talking,” said Linda Bucci, Chair of the Justice Studies Department.
During the interactive discussion, there were mixed feelings from the audience. Some audience members gave personal experiences about how they thought racism was fading, while others referred to research to argue otherwise. These mixed feelings were also present in the students’ and teachers’ final thoughts about Hardy’s speech.
“The discussion was intriguing, however, I thought the introduction could have grasped more of the audience’s attention. I enjoyed hearing many different view points, but I feel the purpose of the speech was lost,” said sophomore Mary Fontaine.
“It was refreshing to have a speaker devote 40 minutes to audience participation and I hope that this talk will stimulate further discussion on race,” said Professor Tessa leRoux, Director of the Donahue Institute.