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The Daily Tar Heel

Students Take Mic to Share Race Experiences

Students and faculty shared their views on racial prejudices, exclusiveness of ethnic groups and perceived racial barriers at UNC during a discussion Tuesday night in the Union Cabaret.

The open-mic event, another installment of Race Relations Week, was presented by the Living with Compassion Series and the Cultural Diversity Committee of the Black Student Movement. "This was an opportunity to look at race and how it affects our lives and the University," said Jon Curtis, assistant director of Union student activities and a moderator for the event. "We wanted people to meet each other and relate in an intimate and comfortable way."

Discussions began after one of the moderators introduced a topic. Students then stated their opinions on such issues as the relationships between blacks and whites and the importance of recognizing other minority groups. "So much conflict still exists (between blacks and whites) that (Asian Americans) begin to feel left out," said Rena Arora, a sophomore representative for Students for the Advancement of Race Relations.

The discussion also focused on minorities' roles in UNC classrooms.

Some students said they resented being the only minority in a class and said they felt they had to be a voice for their ethnic group. "I feel like I have to set an example and go above and beyond the normal expectations set for students," said Ndidi Okeke, a junior psychology major.

Other students expressed views that suggested students at the University self-segregate. "When you are apart of a minority, you feel that you cannot be your true self, and when you get the chance to relate to someone of your own background, you feel like you can relax," said Jokena Smith, vice president of BSM.

Moderators encouraged students to end the need to self-segregate by confronting their own issues of insecurity.

"Everyone needs to go inside of themselves and come to terms with their own prejudices," said Chimi Boyd, assistant director of Campus Y.

At the end of the discussion, members of various ethnic organizations invited everyone to their respective meetings. "There is opportunity every single day for dialogue between races," said Terri Houston, director of Minority On-Campus Recruitment and Support Program and a forum moderator. "People who are different should want to communicate with one another because they are genuinely interested."

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