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Article written by: Izzie Taveras
Radford University’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) kicked off their first Dine on Diversity event of the semester on Wednesday, Feb. 4. Twice a month, the CDI hosts a Dine on Diversity luncheon, providing the attendees with a lunch and a discussion of issues that relate to diversity and cultural awareness.
For the month of February, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion is celebrating Black History Month and the Chinese New Year. Crasha Townsend, Director for the CDI, and Terrence Maynard coordinated the event. The topic for the first Dine on Diversity of the semester was that of “light skin versus dark skin.”
“The issue of light skin versus dark skin can be found throughout any ethnicity/race. There’s factors such as beauty and economic class that is tied to the color of your skin,” said Townsend. “We wanted to explore why these tensions of color can form so many negative experiences.”
Terrence Maynard, the speaker of the event, is currently a junior at Radford University and is majoring in political science.
Maynard is very involved in many other clubs at Radford University, including Men of Standards and the SGA. Maynard stated that for him the topic was important due to his own experiences.
“We really want to explore why there is a preference for light skin,” said Maynard. Maynard led the conversation with many questions on why this is an issue prominent in today’s society.
As participants began walking in the room, Maynard held up a brown paper bag, and if their skin was darker than the paper bag they were told to sit on the right side of the room.
He then began the discussion by posing the question, “What could a brown paper bag have to do with a person’s standing in society?”
Throughout American history the brown paper bag test has been used to determine who can and cannot form part in fraternities.
The test was also used in slave owner’s plantations to determine which slaves would work inside or outside the homes. The slaves who were lighter than the paper bag worked as house slaves, while those who were darker worked out in the fields.
As the conversation kicked off, participants voiced their experiences about the light versus dark issue.
Participants began discussing as it pertains to not only American society, but also cultures around the world. In Asia, adver- tisements for skin lightening products are very common.
Participants also began discussing the issue as it pertains to their lives. Crasha Townsend stated that while with her husband, she feels that others give her more trust simply because she has lighter skin than her husband.
Others also stated that having darker skin presents itself as an issue when applying for jobs.
The Dine on Diversity luncheons invite students to talk about diversity issues that effect their lives.
It allows them to learn about new topics and communicate with other stu- dents in an open and ac- cepting environment.