Panel presents bleak view of future

by David Hemmer | 5/10/94 5:00am

When family problems kept Harvard research psychiatrist Robert Coles at home last night, a panel titled "Altruism, Bigotry and Diversity: A 21st Century Perspective" became a discussion of bigotry and diversity.

Samuel Betances, a sociology professor at Northeastern Illinois University and Roger Wilkens, a history professor at George Mason University were featured on the panel, which also included five students, who questioned the professors.

Perhaps the absence of the speaker on altruism contributed to the bleak atmosphere in the sparsely filled Cook Auditorium, as both panelists presented grim visions of the present and qualified hopes for the future.

Wilkens said progress has been made against racism in the 20th century, but predicted slow progress in the future.

"The grim and bloody present that we're living in around the world doesn't give us very great hope about eliminating bigotry on our soil in the next century," he said. "Ending bigotry in the 21st century is something I don't think we have in our bones to do."

Wilkens presented several ideas to combat racism. "Whites need to be able to see their beloved country as a racist society. Racism is right there at the core of our culture," he said.

"Black people have to grow up. We have to face the truth ... our own organizations are failing us," he added.

Betances emphasized the need to teach American history accurately and completely. He said people must form groups based on common interests -- not on race -- and work to end privileges enjoyed by some groups.

"We must dismantle systems that benefit one group over another," he said. "We must dismantle white male privilege without creating any new privilege in its place."

Both panelists criticized Americans for not doing enough to educate themselves about the plight of other people.

The discussion was the inaugural event of the Steffens 21st Century Lecture Series program.

Advertise your student group in The Dartmouth for free!