Hispanic-black relations topic of forum

By Courtney Lacy

Diversity issues are not simply black and white, and a panel will explore relationships among Hispanics and blacks as part of the Diversity Dialogue series tonight.

The Office of Student Diversity Engagement is sponsoring the event, Strong Divisions and Shared Dreams: Exploring the dynamics of relationships between Latinos/Hispanics and African-Americans/Blacks.

The event starts tonight at 7 in the Small Ballroom of the Student Center.

The forum will benefit students of all races, said Juan Espinosa, president of the Latin American Student Organization.

“The purpose of these events is the unification and integration of all races,” Espinosa said. “This is not an event just for African-Americans and Latinos.”

A poll published in December by New America Media revealed tensions among Americans of different races.

The telephone poll of 1,105 black, Asian-American and Hispanic adults found that friction between these ethnicities is harbored in stereotypes and the mistrust between the groups, according to New America Media, an association of more than 700 ethnic media organizations.

Survey results also showed that the majority of each group wanted to work together toward creating better communities.

“Historically, Latin Americans have not had good communication with African-Americans,” Espinosa said. “But I am confident that this is starting to change since we all have a common goal, which is to promote diversity and awareness not only here on campus but around the state and across the nation.”

The Diversity Dialogue series is designed to promote engaged scholarship and debate about the topics of race, ethnicity and diversity as a whole, said Mahjabeen Rafiuddin, director of student diversity engagement. Programmers and organizers recognize the significance of the paradigm between blacks and whites in the United States.

“However, we are committed to expanding the study of race and ethnicity beyond the black-white paradigm,” she said.

About five years ago, diversity on campus was only thought to encompass blacks, Espinosa said.

“Thanks to these dialogues, the students, staff and faculty are aware that there are many more ethnicities represented at UK that also need and deserve the attention necessary to move forward to a more diverse university,” he said.

More information from the New America Media survey can be found on the organization’s Web site (http://news.newamericamedia.org).