‘RACE Museum Exhibit’ addresses racial disparities, whiteness

In an effort to educate others about racial disparities and whiteness, roughly 40 Binghamton University students presented their projects on racial consciousness at the third annual RACE Museum Exhibit on Tuesday afternoon at the University Downtown Center.

The exhibition, which was part of the course HDEV 407: The Social Construction of Whiteness, featured 10 projects. Topics included mass incarceration, gentrification in Binghamton, people of color in film and discrepancies in teachers’ salaries according to race.

Christopher Storch, a senior majoring in human development, said his group’s research focused on racial identity in America, using the game of Jeopardy! to illustrate approaches to confronting racism and giving background information on important racial terminology.

“For the white identity development, in the contact stage, people will believe that there is no race problem in the United States, and racism only exists in the minds of a few black people,” Storch said. “We’ll give you those attitudes, and you’ll have to guess what stage it is, based on your knowledge.”

Jorwell Perez, a junior majoring in human development, and Sarah Samson, a senior majoring in human development, did their project on students of color in higher education, titled “She Doesn’t Even Go Here: The Treatment of Students of Color Before and During Higher Education.” Perez and Samson’s project sought to bring awareness to the lack of diversity on college campuses across the United States. Their research uncovered that despite being in a generally progressive geographic area, BU actually has less diversity than some southern universities, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“The truth behind the diversity and demographics of colleges are from college admissions pages, and as a high school student applying to colleges, you don’t really see the social implications behind being at a college that is diverse or is not diverse,” Perez said. “On the admissions pages, you just assume what you see is just fact. When we did our research, we found that a lot of these images were actually staged, and they are staged in order to promote diversity. Some of these would have a lot more diversity in their images than on their images, to entice students of color.”

According to Marguerite Wilson, an assistant professor of human development, the exhibition aims to educate the rest of the community on racism.

“The course has a really strong emphasis on practical skills and dealing with racism,” Wilson said. “I talked to the students throughout the semester that, because they have been through this class, they have a responsibility to teach other people what they’ve learned. So this is the culminating activity of the semester, where they get to share their learning with a wider audience.”

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