The Association of White Anti-Racists for Equity (A.W.A.R.E.) held a meeting on Oct. 18 to understand and recognize white privilege, as well as ways to continue an interfaith dialogue for Rowan students.
Started in late 2014, the program provides an opportunity for any white individuals to deepen their self-awareness and to build community with other white people by taking up racial/social justice work. Primarily, the main goals of A.W.A.R.E. are to understand institutional racism, develop alliances and understand the meaning of white privilege.
Josh Stolz, activities coordinator for the Multicultural Center at The Office of Social Justice, Inclusion and Conflict Resolution (S.J.I.C.R.), heads the program and has seen it expand in the past few years.
“The program has grown quite a lot,” Stolz said. “It’s interesting to see this program grow so fast, but it’s a little difficult to keep it going because it’s hard for people to use the SJICR.”
The overarching point for that night’s meeting was what makes a good, white ally and what keeps people from being a white ally.
“People tend not to be an ally due to social pressure, ignorance and fear,” Stolz said. “And in some instances, places where racism occurs, it usually happens when people of color often are alone in a community of white people. This is what we refer to as racial isolation.”
In order to combat racial isolation, Stolz offered tips to be a better ally for people of color: be honest, speak up, be inclusive and recognize your own privilege.
“Privilege is often invisible to those who already have it,” Stolz said. “If we recognize our privilege, then people of all walks of life will be open to you as well as continue the dialogue even further.”
As the meeting began to end, the group offered ways to help Rowan students approach a better dialogue. These include, having an open dialogue with a number of clubs, schedule a cross table conversation with the student NAACP, as well as keep the Glassboro Police incident relevant to the student body.
Senior finance major James Byrnes attended the program to discuss issues of race, as well as learn ways to reach a better dialogue.
“What I found interesting about tonight’s meeting was that we’re actually making racism a paramount issue,” Byrnes said. “However, if we focus on issues other than race, then I feel the program might actually succeed in the future.”
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