When I hear the sound of shattering notions, I know Im on the right track, said Pamela Motoike, a clinical psychologist in the student counseling office. Motoike, who participated in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day panel discussion on insights, issues and dilemmas in multicultural work, listed several notions shed like to see shattered.
The notion that there is only one group that is oppressed, or that there is only one group of oppressors is one of those notions, she said. Many groups can be responsible for evil, and many also should be responsible for opposing it.
Motoike was joined by Todd Sevig, a senior counselor in the student counseling office; Ximena Zuniga, director of the Program on Intergroup Relations and Conflict; Genevieve Stewart, a counselor at Health Service; Ratnesh Nagda, a graduate student in psychology; and Andrea Monroe-Fowler, diversity coordinator in the Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives (OAMI).
Sevig outlined the environment that must exist for multiculturalism to become reality. It must have knowledge, skills, awareness, passion and action to work, he said.
There must be an intentional environment for this to happen, he added.
Zuniga related some of her own experiences, and emphasized the difference individual cultural backgrounds can make in viewpoint.
Stewart spoke about her position at Health Service and how multicultural issues can be incorporated in counseling.
There is never enough time to get into the issues in depth, she noted, but we try to balance the existing program with multicultural issues.
We should use a coalition. The University has lots of resources like the OAMI and the Program in Intergroup Relations and Conflict. We should all work together.
Nagda, who grew up in Kenya, recalled the feeling of being in the middle, caught between the African government and white settlers and belonging to neither group. (Nagda moved to Kenya from India.) He shared with the audience a very personal sense of oppression, stemming from the time he was an undergraduate student and other students used a picture of my spiritual teacher as a dartboard.
Nagda pointed out the difference in the words individualism and individuality.
Individualism is the focus on me, he said. But individuality means that it is indivisible; it cannot be divided.
Monroe-Fowler spoke of the politically-charged environment surrounding multiculturalism.
For many Black students, it has come to mean assimilation, that we are supposed to forget our own issues and join with others, she said. She noted that there are stages of individual development for most Blacks, and that being ready to work toward multiculturalism, to interrelate, depends on individual development.
Getting to the present stage was, for me, a long-term process, she added.
The panel discussion was sponsored by the Program on Intergroup Relations and Conflict, the Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives, and Counseling Services.