Briana Howard experienced a peculiar form of racism.
“When I went to high school, we all came from different backgrounds,” said Howard, president of the Black Student Union. “My mother always taught me to be a polite girl and act like a lady and, because of that, I was being called ‘white girl’ by girls (of) my color.”
Howard said she felt bad about this situation and she did not know what being a “white girl” meant until she asked a friend.
Some people classify racism in different ways, and some even attack their own race and they shouldn’t, she said.
“Fighting with each other and trying to put each other down doesn’t really help,” she said. “To really end racism we need to educate and respect each culture.”
Howard, alongside Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, USI and the YWCA, will get the chance to stand against racism at the national YWCA Stand Against Racism Rally.
She said this opportunity is important.
“It brings out what we believe in,” Howard said. “It makes us represent (others) on campus.” Some students are not represented sometimes on campus and this gives an opportunity of unity and support, she said.
“It gives us the opportunity of saying how we feel and (to) be heard,” she said.
Jay Dickerson, director of the Center for Social Justice Education and organizer of the rally, said this is a wonderful opportunity for students and the community to come together to defend equal rights.
“At the request of Mayor Winnecke, we are hosting it again on campus,” Dickerson said. “(Winnecke) thought it was very appropriate – our participation.” Dickerson said whether the community believes it or not, USI and Evansville are both becoming very diverse, embracing environments and welcoming to everybody.
The idea came last year because of the involvement of social work in the community.
He said Provost Ronald Rochon came in contact with all the parties involved to make this possible.
“What we are trying to do is make our community and students aware that we are diverse and have to be more accepting of everybody,” Dickerson said.
Dickerson said students, as well as the community, should go outside of their comfort zone and become accustomed to those different than them.
“Racism goes beyond black, white or hispanic. We are all in this together. It’s called the human race,” Dickerson said.
The event plans to include the International Club, Multicultural Center and speakers from the Black Student Union, the Hispanic Student Union, Mayor Winnecke, the USI jazz quartet and representatives of the State and agencies.
“It was so nice to have this event interdisciplinary,” Dickerson said.
Dickerson said the event shows the support in the community and students have responded really well.
Kacheyta McClellan, assistant director of the Multicultural Center, said he thinks racism is still alive and prevalent.
“I can say that it’s not tolerated at USI, but that doesn’t mean it does not exist,” he said.
The rally gives the students a wonderful platform to come together and speak against racism, he said. “The only true way to eradicate racism is through education,” McClellan said. “We first need to know that it exists before we can fight it.”
Racism is a form of hate and we have to work on change with the collaboration of all the organizations and parties involved a strong statement will be made, McClellan said.