Handling the tough conversations: Leading diverse dialouges

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Handling the tough conversations: Leading diverse dialouges

Colleen Roach, Staff

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The Columbia College Muslim Student Association (MSA) hosted three diversity dialogues recently, including one titled “Effects of White Supremacy on Religion and Spirituality.”

The dialogues were held in response to the terrorist attacks at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The subject was that most of the mass shootings have been orchestrated and executed by white terrorists. Yet, in my opinion, none of them have been referred to as such.

We live in a world where white people who commit atrocities and perform mass killings are “troubled,” yet innocent muslim citizens are accused of being terrorists simply for their religion. They are objectified by some media and members of the public, and are forced to answer for the crimes of zealots, which no religion is without. However, we as white people are not even classified as terrorists and we have not been made to answer for those who commit these atrocities, despite there having been more white terrorist attacks than muslim since 9/11.

When we turn and face this issue, so many solutions come to mind: We need more political support for minorities. More people need to address and overcome their own prejudices, etc. The solution starts with becoming aware and having these difficult discussions, which I observed occurring recently among my fellow students.

“We need to reach more people who are unaware of these issues,” Nebal Abu Abdo, senior political science and behavioral science major, said. “We have a lot of work to do and it needs to start now.”

Abdo is a member of MSA, which coordinated the dialogues with the help of fellow senior Jessica Baxter. Both said that currently the students who are coming are philosophy or social science majors, however these discussions are appropriate for anyone.

“These discussion need to reach other majors,” said Baxter, an accounting and behavioral science major.

When asked about the importance of the dialogues, another student, Taryn Auerbach, a senior English education major, had this to say, which was the discussion group’s consensus.

“Students are not seeking these opportunities and they aren’t happening in the classroom. These dialogues need to continue to happen so that there’s always the opportunity for a student to get involved in the discussion.”

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