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Race relations leave room for improvement

Feb. 6, 2001

This week is the annual Black Heritage Week at Baylor. There are several events planned on campus for Baylor students to learn more about and celebrate the heritage of blacks, ranging from a music forum, an art exhibition, a gospel fest and a heritage banquet featuring author, professor and civil rights activist Dr. Cornel West.

All members of the Baylor community should take advantage of Black Heritage Week to learn more about the history of an often-overlooked segment of society. But we should also use Black Heritage Week to take a look at race relations at Baylor and in society in general.

Black Heritage Week reminds us of the embarrassing days of our country's past, when blacks were not granted the same rights as whites. It reminds us of the struggle of blacks to free themselves from slavery and achieve equality.

And while everyone is now equal under the law, inequality is still a problem, contrary to what many people are naïve in thinking. This inequality is a reality because of economic and societal factors that are slow to change.

Minorities are over-represented in prisons and low-income neighborhoods, yet under-represented in higher education. Obviously, there are deep divisions between blacks and whites.

After a controversial and racially offensive article that appeared in the NoZe Brotherhood's publication The Rope in 1999, Baylor was forced into a long-awaited and healthy dialogue over race relations.

However, the problem of poor race relations still needs to be addressed at Baylor. There is still a need for more discussions between campus groups and organizations and between students and the administration.

Blacks account for approximately 5 percent of the student body, while making up almost 13 percent in the total U.S. population, and the NoZe Brotherhood's controversial article exposed wounds that have not yet been healed.

Black Heritage Week not only gives us a chance to learn more about the heritage of blacks; it also gives us a chance to reflect on Baylor's mistakes, the country's past and the continuing importance of focusing on race relations.