Racism at NIU only reflects our society

In recent days one question has become a hot topic for discussion around here: “Is NIU a racist campus?”

The answer is clear to anyone who bothers to look with open eyes. And that answer is yes.

It’s usually subtle and often non-intentional, but many minority students (especially blacks) on this campus are correct when they say they came to NIU for an education and found discrimination.

It’s not as open or violent as Alabama in the 1960’s or even Chicago a few years ago when Harold Washington was running for mayor.

But it’s there.

Blacks and whites on this campus are as segregated (with a few exceptions) as on any college campus I’ve been around.

And although that in itself is not necessarily proof that anyone is racist, it’s a good indicator of people’s attitudes at NIU. “You stay on your side, we’ll stay on our side,” is the message.

I can only speak for myself, but I’ve noticed a trend for people to stereotype without even knowing it. For example, a person in a white fraternity is a greek, a person in a black fraternity is a black greek. And those terms in of themselves hold certain stereotypical connotations.

That in itself doesn’t prove rampant racism, but that’s just one example and further evidence of the subtle racism throughout society.

Another example is the current basketball movie “White Men Can’t Jump.”

The racist part of that title is not in stereotyping white basketball players, it’s in implying that black basketball players are born with great leaping ability.

It’s the old Michael Jordan-Larry Bird syndrome. Bird is referred to as being a “smart, hard-working” basketball player while Jordan is admired for his “great natural talent.”

It’s as if Bird was born with one arm and practiced 22 hours a day while Jordan dunked the first time he picked up a basketball.

That subtle racism is, with a few violent exceptions, the problem at NIU. And it’s a problem NIU shares with society.

I won’t even pretend I have the answers, but I’d like to shed some light on specific charges. Namely, that the Northern Star is racist.

In my three years at the Star, I have seen that subtle racism described above. But I definitely see significantly less of it at the Star than I do on the rest of campus.

There unquestionably is no deliberate effort to slam blacks at the Star. Most of the people who work here are much more open-minded than most.

The paper does have some problems. Fortunately, racism is not one of them. The Star presents the news: good, bad and everything in between without regard to race.

I believe that saying NIU is at least partially a racist campus is speaking the truth.

I know saying the Northern Star is a racist newspaper is not.