Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day 9: Silent Secrets

This morning I woke up more tired than I had been previously here at Brown, which is ironic since I got the most sleep last night. I got dressed and headed out for breakfast. My daily routine was setting in but I still can’t navigate around campus. Afterward, I got a coffee at the nearby Starbucks.

During class, Jen Madden spoke to us about public speaking and the tricks of the trade. She taught us how to stand, where to look, and most importantly, what to do with those pesky “um” and “like” words. Jen was really energetic and was the definition of an excellent speaker. At lunch, I got another Starbucks coffee and went back to class a half hour early just to sit and relax. When class resumed, we practiced improv speeches. They were difficult but my listeners were supportive and kind.

We finished the speeches early so class ended a half hour early. I walked around, unsure of what to occupy my time with. A little while later we met for dinner in the dining hall. I realized when the woman was scanning our I.D.s to let us into the dining hall that our identification is required to get places that we wanted to go, such as the dining hall and the dorm. I took this as an extreme metaphor for life, meaning that our identification and who we are is important in this society to determine where you will go in life. It started raining once we got inside but stopped shortly after. We took that opportunity to run to CVS. We made it back just in time for the Diversity activity. Our class met and we went through many activities where the key rule is to stay silent. One involved colored stickers being placed on our foreheads so we couldn’t see the color. The only instruction was to get in a group without talking. We managed to get all of the colors together by cleverly using people’s clothes to identify color. When we were done we looked at the instructions again realizing that it said a group. They never said we had to get into groups based on color. We could’ve just gotten into one big group but we unconsciously put ourselves into groups based on similarities.

Before I knew it, the session was over and we were all in shock at how powerful those simple activities changed our perspectives. Since our dorm building is all female, we decided to call the lounge the “estrogen den”, and we met in there afterward to play cards. I played a few rounds then headed up to blog. I need to get more sleep tonight because tomorrow is the ropes course. I don’t look forward to it since it is pouring rain and the course is in a wooded area.

I came back from today with one simple concept in mind: that no matter how hard we try, categorizing and putting people into groups based on similarities like race or gender is second-nature. Especially to people like me who are completely accepting to all races, sexual orientations, social backgrounds, etc., seeing this happen in the sticker game frightened me into realizing that we are groomed by society to accept these views even if we don’t realize it.

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