Organizations promote cultural diversity

by Lori Achman

News Reporter

This semester's cultural and ethnic events kicked off Thursday with opening ceremonies of the UH Council of Ethnic Organizations' program, "Partnerships in Diversity," in the University Center Arbor.

"The goal of quality cultural programs is to reflect the diversity here at UH and to create a lifetime awareness and sensitivity to all people," said Lynn Lee, director of CEO.

CEO's member organizations plan to present a series of multicultural programs based on the theme of keynote speaker Ray Davis' address, "Building Ties Across Ethnic Lines."

"Building bridges and creating real ethnic alliances is the key to social change," said Davis, executive director of the D.C. Student Coalition Against Racism. "What's important is the work, not the differences in color and language of the participants."

The organization is pursuing a "united front" approach to fighting racism, he said.

This approach is "multicultural, multi-issue and multidisciplinary, rooted in social and economic change," Davis said.

There are three types of racism: interpersonal racism, such as racial slurs and hate crimes; institutional racism, such as lack of quality service to segments of the population as can be seen in the health care and banking industries; and societal racism, which is more subtle and permeates throughout the community, he said.

"People can change. Power can change. People can learn how to live together," said Davis, pointing to his work with the anti-apartheid movement as proof that change can occur.

The key to building ethnic alliances is creating more multi-ethnic projects, ensuring that schools teach a multicultural curriculum and monitoring free speech and human rights issues.

CEO is the umbrella organization for more than 60 ethnic and international student organizations on the UH campus, including the Asian Students Association, the Chinese Students Association, the Vietnamese Students Association, the Mexican American Students Association, the Hispanic Students Association, the International Student Organization, the Hindu Student Council, the Filipino Students Association and the Pan Afrikan People for Progressive Action.

Several weekend events were canceled because of poor weather conditions, including an African New Year Celebration, sponsored by PAPPA; China Night, sponsored by CSA; and the Latin American Folk Festival, sponsored by the Mexican American Students Organization.

Although most of the events will be rescheduled, no information was available Sunday.

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