Ohio University’s Black Student Union and Asian American Pacific Islander Student Union co-hosted a panel Sunday to discuss how the groups can work together to support one another.
The panel consisted of four people: Lauren Brown, a junior studying chemistry pre-pharmacy; Jayla Neal, a sophomore studying film; Alexis Karolin, a senior studying history; and Gabbie Buhay, a sophomore studying psychology pre-physical therapy.
Brown said going into the panel, she felt it was important for her not to speak much about her own opinion and to keep an open mind when listening to her peers.
Karolin shared that sentiment and talked about the importance of connecting with others on a more personal level. She also spoke about creating events where members of the two groups can get to know each other and break down stereotypes.
In response to a question regarding generational animosity between Asian Americans and Black Americans, Karolin said she believes animosity does exist historically but that it is as a result of systemic racism.
“When Asian Americans immigrated to the United States, primarily to California, they experienced racial discrimination in employment and housing and that forces them into lower socioeconomic communities, just as other people of color and diverse groups have been forced to do,” she said. “So, when we are all forced into these different spaces because of white racism, it causes our two communities to collide.”
The panel also discussed the university’s general approach to diversity and inclusion and their thoughts on how things could be portrayed better by the university.
Karolin talked about the Make Respect Visible campaign, which was introduced by OU in an attempt to bring existing students together.
“So, for the whole campaign, I just want to pose a rhetorical question: What does putting a bunch of posters on campus do for the community? Not much,” she said. “Also, it can very easily be misinterpreted (by) a racist person to say, ‘Oh well, that’s just my opinion and, therefore, you have to respect it, even though my opinion disrespects your entire being.’”
Neal said she felt the campaign was not created by someone from a diverse background because of the campaign’s nature.
Brown said she believes administration at the university should focus more on consulting multiple different students and communities to gauge different perspectives when making decisions.