October 17, 2008

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CSU faculty to discuss race relations at Museum forum

By Faith Hampton

Cleveland State University’s Division of Institutional Diversity will have a public town hall forum titled Let’s Talk about Race at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Admission and parking will be free.
In addition to the meeting, the museum has an exhibit titled Race: Are We So Different? The exhibit has been up since Sept. 27, 2008.
“The exhibit is based on the theory that race is a human invention,” said Dr. Njeri Nuru-Holm, the vice president for Institutional Diversity.
The exhibit was developed by the American Anthropological Association, along with the Science Museum of Minnesota. According to the museum’s Web site, this is the first national exhibit dedicated to telling stories about race from a biological, cultural, and historical standpoint.
“It is a phenomenal opportunity for the city of Cleveland to have this type of exhibit,” said Nuru-Holm. “It forces conversation and, hopefully, will make us look at ourselves related to race and racism.”
The forum will discuss the history of race in America, the origins of racism, and the difficulty in discussing the topic of race in general.
There will be a panel moderated by Nuru-Holm. The panel will include CSU faculty members George Ray of the School of Communication, director of the Black Studies department Dr. Michael Williams, Dr. Mieko Smith of the School of Social Work, and Dr. Barbara Hoffman of the department of anthropology.
The panel plans to discuss their own personal experiences and any research they have found that seems appropriate to talk about at the meeting.
Speaking about the forum on race, Ray said that he received a phone call from Melodie Yates, director of diversity training for the vice president Institutional Diversity office, asking for him to get involved.
“I said sure and she said it would be a panel discussion,” Ray said.
Ray has spoken at Bowling Green State University for a race seminar, delivered papers at conferences, and spoke at a diversity conference at CSU last spring.
Ray also teaches an interracial communication course now and is writing a book on the issues of race. He focuses on race communication, language, and dialect.
“There are some language barriers between blacks and whites,” Ray said. “Generally speaking, there are white on black and black on white stereotypes and that gets in the way of one on one communication,” Ray said.
Ray explained that the CSU faculty members had a meeting the week of Oct. 5 about what the panel would discuss at the meeting. He said everyone will have a brief presentation on their own perspectives of race.
“It has been predicted that in 35 years – European Americans will no longer be the majority,” Ray said.
Nuru-Holm confirmed that the census shows clearly that we are a global United States and the greater Cleveland area as well.
The exhibit has many hands on features for observers. It includes information about race history, money issues, personal experiences, ect. There are many videos that play throughout the exhibit as well.
Refreshments will be served. People who wish to attend are encouraged to register at www.cmnh.com or call 216-231-1177.





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