On Sep. 5, students gathered to discuss social issues in Brave dialogue series session “Don’t Box Me In.” PN Photo/Octavia Johnson
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) and Campus Engagement and Leadership (CEL) held their biweekly dialogue series, “Don’t Box Me In,” at 3 p.m.- 4 p.m. in the UC room 208 to discuss how society boxes people into certain categories.
The discussion was hosted by Associate Director for Leadership Education, Bethany Wendler, and Director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Robert Canida. Wendler introduce the topic and told the students the rules of speaking in the dialogue series.
The rules were as followed; use “I” statements, be respectful of people’s personal belief, participants have to be careful to not have too much control over the conversation and take a mental break from the conversation.
The discussion was about how sometimes people feel forced to choose a race, religion, etc. on any application.
Wendler started off the conversation by explaining how the participants felt about checking off boxes and not being able to check of boxes when referring to race/ethnicity.
One participant used an example of how mixed people are forced to choose one box. For example, if they were Asian and Latino, sometimes they would have to choose one.
Wendler asked the participants how the boxes should be changed.
“You should be able to check more than one box,” one student said.
The conversation continued with why most people are forced to pick just the few boxes. Most people do not have boxes that they can check off in, like the boxes with black/African American or white/Caucasian.
“At UNCP we have a high number of ‘no response’ on people’s race/ethnicity,” Canida said.
Most students don’t know what to check off in one of the boxes.
Wendler said some people ‘code switch’ to switch their identities to present themselves to others.
For example, if someone were of one race but checked the box of another race. Some would try “passing” to choose another race other than their own for what they believe is more “superior” or for what fits the circumstances within the country they live in.
“The boxes don’t help because it makes a person have to choose,” another student said. “It’s like society is saying you can’t be both or your own race.”
They ended the discussion with the difference between race and nationality and some of the participants gave their honest opinion.
“The real question is how many races are there in this world,” Canida said.
They ended it with a survey of how the session went and one of the participants pointed out that they were checking off boxes which is what the discussion was about.