|Web Magazine Online|
|By April Liening|
My unique field assignment took place in one of the apartments in Westwood. Sponsored by Inter Varsity Bruin Christian Fellowship was an event known as Rainbow Sherbert. The goal of Rainbow Sherbert is to heighten students' awareness of racism and to have students reconcile with others of a different ethnic background. The interesting title, Rainbow Sherbert, stems from the idea that we are all like a different flavor and that while we taste good on our own, we can taste better joined together. This ideology is much different from the well-known melting-pot theory, in which people of different races all combine and "melt" to become one jumbled mixed-up thing. The reason why the advocates of Rainbow Sherbert reject the melting-pot theory is because they believe that people should not have to lose their "flavor" and "melt" with others. In other words, they want to take seriously and enjoy the distinctions that accompany different cultures.
The evening began at 7 pm, Sunday, October 26. Doug Schuapp, director of Inter Varsity at UCLA and a Reverend at Calvary Baptist Church, an African American congregation, introduced those present to the objective of Rainbow Sherbert and separated us into ethnic specific groupings. There was a separate group for Caucasians, Asian Americans, Latinos, African Americans and people of multiracial heritage, such as myself. In our ethnic-specific groups we answered and discussed the following questions:
1) How have you caused pain to others within the area of race?
2) How have you received pain from others within the area of race?
The ethnic specific discussion groups then focused on the first question. This was done intentionally because the leaders knew that it is much easier for people to point the fingers at others than it is for them to make an honest self-evaluation and consider how they themselves have had or still have racist attitudes.
I led the multiracial group and it was interesting to see that there was a common theme among us. All but one of us were half-White and we all confessed to have wanted to "play down" our minority side in order to avoid the stereotypes that come along with being a specific race.
After the hour-long time in our small groups we all joined back together -- approximately sixty students were present. What ended up happening that night really suprised me. People from the Caucasian group asked if they could share first, and so they did. One after another each White male or female that spoke confessed to being guilty of having prejudices. For example, a freshman told the large group that when he used to work at Wal-Mart, he would automatically be suspicious of the African American customers that he would encounter among the aisles. He apologized to the African Americans in the room for how his mind would naturally become suspicious even though he had no reason to fear African Americans. He asked for their forgiveness and the African Americans responded by forgiving him in their hearts and saying "I forgive you" out loud. It was amazing to see how my white brothers and sisters were spilling guts and exposing such ugly sin and in return be received by the people of color with so much forgiveness and love.
After many confessions and interactions, we debriefed. In this debriefing session, the African Americans sincerely thanked their White brothers and sisters for their honesty and vulnerability. They were so glad that the Caucasians were taking the problem of racism so seriously and that by exposing their prejudices and being held accountable to change they were taking responsibility.
I believe that it was a great night. A lot of walls were broken among us, and the hostility that can fester among different races was in a way cast out through openness, forgiveness and the shared commitment to love and build relationships with people of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
(April Liening is a Junior majoring in English.)