Although it is outlandish to suggest that we have reached a post-racial period, we have as a nation made many strides toward changing the attitudes of society towards race. The election of President Obama reflects this on a large scale- he received the majority of our country’s vote from citizens of all races- but there are many other small scale changes that reflect our movement as well. Post-racial may not be the best term to describe the way in which our views are changing because it suggests that we are living in a way that is beyond race- a way that looks past race in every facet of our daily lives. Our society seems to be taking a different approach to the race issue than simply looking past it; instead we are embracing diversity of our society and celebrating the many different races which surround us.
A new attitude seems to be in place, particularly in the Mid-South that was not present before. In the past couple of years, even our own school has created a new position in admissions responsible specifically for recruiting multicultural students. Many schools are also funding more scholarships than ever to provide tuition for students who come from less wealthy economic backgrounds. These changes reflect our country’s realization of the importance of a highly diverse student body to create the most rewarding environment for students. Campus’s which attempt to create very multicultural student bodies allow their students to become aware of all sectors of American society. It is these campuses, as students have experiences outside the classroom, that foster the development of the most well rounded individuals.
It is interesting to look at this new push for diversity as I apply to graduate programs. Every day I find myself receiving information packets and emails from schools describing their minority and underrepresented student population and the support systems their school offers. Although I know the goal of these programs is to offer a compassionate and helpful environment as I enter the next part of my life, I sometimes feel that it is not actually in my benefit to join such a program. One of the first programs I was exposed to when coming to Rhodes was S.O.S. whose goal is to provide a welcoming environment for students of color and orient them to the culture of the institution and assist with their adjustment to college life. I greatly appreciate the efforts which this program makes to help students however sometimes I wonder if it is effective to immediately separate students of color from the rest of the student body. I know that the program aims to make students feel comfortable and a lot of times people feel most comfortable with someone who is of the same race as them, but doesn’t this just further encourage students to only feel at ease with their own race?