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Forum Discusses State of UNC Race Relations

The Mu Zeta chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity Inc. continued the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday by presenting a forum titled "Awakening from a Dream," whose participants included a panel of eight campus leaders and its audience.

Barry Brinkley, the liaison to the Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration Committee within Alpha Phi Alpha, said he thought organizing such an event would be an important step in recognizing King's accomplishments.

"We decided to do something that would capture his dream by bringing people of all different races and backgrounds together," he said. "We wanted to kinda wake people up and let them know the dream still exists -- the struggle's not over."

Journalism Professor Chuck Stone began the discussion with a summary of the current state of race relations.

"When I came here in 1991, there was great enthusiasm for diversity and multiculturalism, but now it's gone. It does not exist anymore," he said. The theme near the beginning of the forum focused on encouraging people to branch out. Panelist Mimi Patel, president of Theta Nu Xi multicultural sorority, recognized a compromise.

"You can identify with a certain group but also make a personal effort to interact with other, different groups," she said.

Camille Holt, a sophomore business major, said she thought a separate problem took precedence.

"I don't think we should branch out to talk to other races before we can even talk amongst our own race (without problems)."

Aidil Polanco, treasurer and historian for the Carolina Hispanic Association, turned the discussion to focus on a person's "box" and their need to step outside of that box.

"As a resident assistant at Granville Towers, I have a lot of interaction with caucasian people," she said. "They don't want to get out of their box because they're afraid they'll say something wrong."

But Polanco recognized it as a mutual problem. "Black people don't step out of their box because they don't want to have to be the 'teacher' and explain their differences and history."

Junior Kristi Booker placed the onus on all racial groups.

"Is it always the responsibility of the minority to make the effort?" she asked. "I've been to several diversity groups, and minorities are the only ones who go to them."

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