Hi Corky, I just wanted to make a small comment on what you've said here. I'm not a student at Ole Miss nor have I spent a substantial amount of time in Oxford, but I have spent enough time there to refute your comments about the suburbs of Oxford. Oxford's not a major city, it's a college town. The area is pretty quiet in the summer when the students are out of town. The people who do call Oxford home for the most part live in the city proper, and there's lots of gorgeous homes and neighborhoods that border the town square. The University of Mississippi is a wealthy campus that is the most "upper class" of Mississippi's public universities, and that upper class primacy is reflected in the make up of the city itself. This would lead me to argue that Krista is right in what she saw--that the city is not putting on a shallow and pretty face--but instead filled with people and students who are at least trying to bridge the racial divide. You won't find racists in the suburbs because there really are no suburbs in that town.
That said, things aren't all rosy in Oxford. You may or may not have heard of the controversy last year that arose when some black fraternity students came to a party at a traditionally white fraternity house (http://www.thedmonline.com/2.2.... I was on campus in the aftermath of that event, visiting some of my best friends. Those friends of mine who attend Ole Miss will tell you that there IS racism there, and it's felt strongly. The student body is largely segregated. Strides have been made and things are better than they were, but it does nobody any good to ignore issues that still persist. This completely rosy, racism is solely in the past, picture of race relations at Ole Miss is just as dangerous as the views that claim every student at the University is racist.
You may call me biased, but if you were to ask me what university is truly progressive when it comes to dealing with race relations, I'd have to point to my own: the University of Southern Mississippi. Our campus is roughly 30% black and 65% white, along with a few other minorities. This comes closer to Mississippi's actual racial diversity. More important than enrollment statistics, though, is campus involvement. I'm a member of our Student Government Association, one of the most active and certainly the most influential student organization on campus. This group is very diverse from the sub committees to the executive officers, and there is no racial tension. All of the major student organizations on campus (minus the Afro-American Student Organization, which is specifically for black students) are racially varied. We recently had elections for our homecoming court and Mr. and Mrs. USM. They were a diverse group that included not only white and black students, but a middle eastern student as well. The winner of Mr. USM this year is biracial. I served on our elections commission this year, and we counted all ballots by hand (we're working on an electronic system ;) ). I know from looking at the actual ballots that no students voted across racial lines, and that makes me really proud to be a Southern Miss student. Southern is just a really progressive University... we just inaugurated our first female president of the university, we're committed to going green and have a carbon neutral plan, and we have an open and inviting student body that includes students of all races (and countries--66 different nations are represented by students on campus! :) ), religons, sexual orientations, etc. USM often gets overlooked because we don't have the money or the SEC standing or whatever, but it is a great and very progressive university in the south. I'm very proud of it.
I think Sarah is right when she says that as our generation grows up, and as we raise the next generation, racism will continue to disappear. It's becoming less and less of an issue, and my hope is that this will continue. There is always the danger though that we'll move on from our historical hatred of blacks and pass that awful legacy onto another group, such as Hispanic people. I find it is often the case that racism isn't erradicated but transferred from group to group while we claim progress because we don't hate the group we've hated before. You've seen this in history--Irish Americans used to be hated, but that's no longer an issue. Instead there are other groups we target. I think thise is a serious problem. Instead of focusing on racial tolerance between black and white or any other group, we should be thinking about tolerance across the board, tolerance for all those we come in contact with.
I didn't mean for this to be so long, but it looks like I've gone on a little rant of my own. :) Thanks for the program, everyone. I always enjoy listening. :)
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