Starting April 13 at noon, a series of events and workshops will be launched at Central Oregon Community College having to do with race and other subjects that sometimes cause controversy. There will be eight events in all, each of them part of the “Can We Talk About Race and Other Differences?” series, a campus event put on by the multicultural center with the purpose of touching on subjects dealing with diversity.
“We’re really trying to build community by engaging in difficult conversations,” said Karen Roth, director of COCC’s multicultural department. This will be the second year that COCC will be putting on the “Can We Talk About Race” events and Roth said she is hopeful there will be a turn out at least as large as last year’s and that students and staff alike will come away with a positive experience.
“Our goal is to let students and staff talk about issues of diversity they may not in other venues,” said Roth.
The events will be covering several different topics, including what causes prejudice, how to become aware of personal prejudices, white privilege and some race issues in the media.
Some of the events include a film viewing, but each of them center around open discussion. The variety of topics up for discussion are likely to bring out different opinions and this will provide a safe venue to express them.
One of the topics to be discussed are the newly released additions of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” that omit the “n-word;” students and faculty will be able to express their opinions on whether or not it was actually helpful during the discussion taking place on April 21, called “Strange Fruit: Prickly Topics in Langauge and Literature.” COCC literature professor Stacey Donohue expressed her opinion on the matter.
“It’s truly vandalism,” said Donohue. “Mark Twain chose that word … he knew exactly what he was doing and to take it out is to say that he didn’t.”
Though Donohue has no involvement with the event, students are welcome to come share their own opinion in the event discussion.
During this campus event, several COCC staff members will be speaking, including Amy Howell, Tony Russel and Andria Woodell. This year there will also be two speakers from Oregon State University-Cascades; Natalie Dollar and Jim Foster.
“We’re doing more things jointly,” said Roth about working with the OSU-Cascades campus. “I’m just feeling really positive about that.”
The calender for the “Can We Talk About Race” events are listed to on the broadsides front window. There will be cookies at most of the discussions and all are free.
Cedar Goslin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org