NORMAN — As strangers sat casually at round tables, the conversations heard at each were difficult for those speaking, but attendees at the University of Oklahoma’s Teach-In on Race on Wednesday kept talking as they chose to educate, agitate, organize and ask tough questions about race, gender and culture.
More than 150 students and community members were in attendance. The event was the culmination of many events the Women’s and Gender Studies Center for Social Justice have hosted throughout the year, which began with “After Trayvon” in August.
Mallory Gladstein, program coordinator for the Center for Social Justice, said the Teach-In’s goal was to frame the conversation on race issues so OU and Norman communities feel comfortable discussing race.
“We hope students are critically engaged here so they continue this conversation,” Gladstein said.
After a morning presentation on “Race: The Power of an Idea” by Dr. Kristen Edwards and Dr. Greg Graham, attendees went to break-out sessions including “White People as People of Color,” “Model Minority: Clashes and Culture,” “Race is More than Just Black and White,” “Bi/Racial Bi/Cultural Identity,” “Race and the University” and “The Intersection of Race, Class and Gender.”
During “Model Minority: Clashes and Culture,” students watched a video on the struggles many Asian Americans face as being stereotyped as intellectually savvy in math, engineering and medical fields and the pressure for perfect grades.
Jennifer Quan, OU Student Life Asian American advisor, led the discussion along with graduate student Tony Lee.
At the end of the video, OU graduate student Joshua Colbert said he hated the situation many Asian American’s found themselves in.
“I hate it — people shouldn’t go outside their comfort and stress themselves to satisfy what they think is a norm and what other people expect of them,” Colbert said.