Chen spoke to approximately 45 University students at the University Museum as part of the Campus Organized Lectures On Racial Sensitivity program. COLORS was started in 1989 as a collaborative effort between Sigma Chi and Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. The program was founded to combat racial prejudice on campus and encourage unifying or educational events. Chen illustrated the state of race relations now by comparing it to 1972. "In 1972, we were just coming off the Civil Rights Movement, the assassination of Martin Luther King and the Vietnam War," Chen said. "Now it seems as though most people are just concerned with big jobs, big money and big offices." According to Chen, the major problem Americans face in 1992 is which direction to go. Some examples that Chen used to point to the state of America today were that affirmative action and equal opportunity are seen as dirty words, that television shows are filled with violence and hatred and that racial tensions are on the rise in universities across the U.S. "It is worse in colleges and universities than it is in society," Chen said. "I don't see the turning points or shining lights in higher education." Two problems that Chen pointed to in higher education were obsolete curricula and racial violence. In his field of psychology, Chen said the theories that are being taught today are old and do not apply to Asians or blacks. He also pointed to the rising numbers of racial or ethnic related violent incidents on campuses as a disturbing trend. Chen stressed the need for demystifying stereotypes. "If we turn out the lights, we are all black," Chen said. "Even with the lights out, though, we still are different in background, knowledge and experience." Chen cited statistics that one-fourth of all white Americans have some black genes or traits and three-fourths of all blacks have white genes or traits. Chen predicted that those factors identifying races as separate will start to disappear over the next several years. He said he believes that even terms such as minorities and majorities are outdated. "Minority seems to suggest powerless and majority seems to represent a government group," Chen said. He said that in 50 years or less, caucasian Americans will make up less than 30 percent of America. Chen compared different races to a mosiac, with each person being a diamond, a ruby, or an emerald. He suggested that each student share their radiance or cultural heritage with other students. "This process of sharing will bring about productive and enlightening education both at Penn and other institutes of higher learning," Chen said. Reaction from the audience was generally positive. College sophomore Scott Carpenter thought the speech was interesting. "It's too bad he couldn't stay longer," he said. Wharton and College senior Saad Khairi was excited that Chen could fly out for the event. "I felt his speech was a call to action for us," he said.Comments powered by Disqus
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