Race. It's the elephant in the corner, the crazy aunt in the basement, the 800-pound gorilla that everyone knows is there but no one wants to talk about. But on an increasingly diverse campus in a racially divided city in a country known as the great melting pot, it's time we started talking about race. Over the last 10 days, in a series of articles and on the editorial page, we have joined with you in an exploration of the ways in which race defines community at Penn. We have set out to better understand ourselves. The results of our snapshots of campus life conform to the realities we all encounter on a daily basis. We interact with members of our own race to a greater extent than we do with members of other races. We participate in groups that are defined by race, and in groups that are defined by other interests but remain racially homogenous. And we choose mentors, friends and housemates of the same race as ourselves, even if we do not choose them for that reason. Some have read this exploration as an indictment of race-based groups. It is not. We have sought to understand the reasons people hew to racial lines, not to judge those reasons. Wherever we looked, we found two broad forces shaping our segregated reality: a perception that we benefit from race-based association, and a perception that our choices are made under external pressure. Equally, we found that students are of two minds about the implications of segregation: most see both benefits and costs to division along racial lines. But the most important thing we found was silence. Most students neither consider these facts nor weigh their consequences. Race has a valid place in our lives; discrimination does not. And we will never know the difference until we start talking about it.Comments powered by Disqus
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