Forum sheds light on white racism problem

By Sheri Forsell

As part of Unity Through Diversity Week at NIU, the Wesley Foundation held a forum on white racism yesterday to help make people aware of when they act racist.

The forum was meant to be an informal discussion about the problems of white racism. However, because of the limited audience of four people, the director of the Wesley Foundation, Dave Schmidt, gave a talk.

Schmidt said we should ask ourselves “What is our unity in the midst of our diversity?”

“My main concern … for today is to talk from the perspective of a white person who understands himself to be, in some measure, a white racist,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt said it is hard for people to realize when they are being racist. He illustrated his statement through a handout from a workshop on racism held by the Northern Illinois Conference Commission on Religion and Race.

The handout was a list of statements that Schmidt said, even though some sounded positive, they all, in some way, grouped people separately. Schmidt said most people have either heard these statements or have said them before.

Some of these examples include:

Every person should be judged solely on his or her accomplishments, regardless of race.

(Said to a black person) I’ve gotten to know you so well that I just don’t see you as black any more.

Some of my best friends are black.

Schmidt also handed out the definition of white racism as presented by the United Methodist National Convocation on Racism, “White racism is the value system which assumes that one race is innately superior to all other races and that the ‘superior race’ has the inherent power to dominate all other races.”

Schmidt said he thought the small turnout to the forum was due to the time, Sunday at 4:30, when not all students are home from the weekend or are involved in their studies.