Letter to the Editor: [ _____ ] at Stanford: NAACP’s Effort to Foster Multicultural Understanding

March 1, 2011, 12:19 a.m.

Dear Editor,

Last week, the Opinions section featured an article by Alex Hicks-Nelson that referenced our Stanford NAACP event “Black at Stanford” in relation to her column “Reality Check” on electronic Black discourse at Stanford. Though we appreciate the fact that our event was viewed as “interesting,” Nelson’s article simultaneously included a degree of ambivalence that necessitates some clarification about the purpose of our project.

It is evident on Stanford’s campus that people do not recognize the viewpoints of other students on the topic of race as it intersects with a kaleidoscope of social constructs like class, gender, sexuality and religion. This conversation is often suppressed by a “political correctness” that is convenient and sometimes even comforting, but is neither progressive nor personal enough to answer the question: “How might race impact my own life?”

Though some believe that Stanford race relations are not any different than outside “the bubble,” Stanford NAACP’s initial discussion on black identity has already attested to the unique experiences of members of the Diaspora at Stanford. From a single discussion, we have already realized a wide range of experiences that revive the meaning of the 2010 Black Plaza shirts lettered “I Am The Diaspora,” with identities ranging from “Astronauts” to “Jewish.” We are documenting how socioeconomics, how being biracial and ideas of “passing,” how learning in majority-minority high schools and how being a minority in a predominantly white institution affect views of blackness at Stanford. These are powerful narratives and are only just the beginning of the developing picture.

For clarification, “Black at Stanford” is only the first part of a larger project called “[ _________ ] at Stanford” (pronounced “Blank” at Stanford). [ _________ ] at Stanford is an ongoing series depicting various perspectives, experiences, trials and successes of the various demographics represented on the Stanford campus. We seek to promote cultural appreciation and awareness through a series of interviews, forums and sincere conversations within different demographic groups that will, upon completion, be shown to the greater Stanford population in the form of a documentary.

The beauty of our project is that it allows people to think, to connect and to speak from a more educated perspective on the thoughts and experiences of others whose ideas they may have otherwise disregarded. Our organization holds firm to the belief that one may speak of the events and experiences of others, but you cannot adequately speak from their perspective, as perspective is, especially when racially grounded, deeply personal.

If you would like your perspective to be included in this educational project in the form of an interview or you are hosting an event along these lines, do not hesitate to contact the coordinators, Christian Beauvoir ([email protected]) and Olivia Smarr ([email protected]). If you simply want to learn from your peers, come to our next [ _____ ] at Stanford discussion. But most importantly, initiate the conversation on your own terms.


In Justice,

Christian Beauvoir ’14, Olivia Smarr ’14, Matt Miller ‘12

Stanford NAACP


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