Banks demands equality in diverse global times

James Banks wants equality. Banks addressed this during his speech in the Doudna Fine Arts Center Thursday in reference to how people should be more tolerant of people with diverse backgrounds.

Banks grew up as a black man in the deep south, in a small town named Marianna, Ark., during the time of the Civil Rights Movement, segregation and inequality for blacks in the 1960s.

“I personally experienced racism, so I developed a commitment to make the world a better place,” Banks said.

The main point of Banks’ speech was how he wants to empower citizens, especially young people in schools and universities across the country, to become more understanding of other people’s cultures.

He mentioned that 2008 marked the 60th anniversary of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes all humans should have freedom, justice and peace in the world.

Banks also spoke about how not only blacks, but women, gays and Jews are sometimes excluded.

He also mentioned that Polish, Indian and Latino cultures are seen as a minority group and how more people should accept all different cultures, religion and sexual preferences and what they have to offer.

to offer.

During his time as an undergraduate at the Chicago Teacher’s College in the 1960s Banks associated with both whites and blacks.

When he was with the white students they would talk about idiosyncrasies of certain professors, while hanging out with the black students nourished his soul, Banks said.

Before his speech, James Banks spoke with a black Eastern student, who had expressed a feeling of loneliness as a black male in a predominantly white college community and he used this as an example in the speech of how people should be more accepting of other people’s cultures. Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. were both included in James Banks’ speech as examples of activists who overcame racism in the United States. Banks also talked about how groups who are seen as “different” should take the time out to come together and talk about what they have been feeling. He said this could be as simple as women coming together and talking about how men are foolish.

Banks also spoke about his book, “The Routledge International Companion to Multicultural Education.”

The book discusses how certain cultural groups such as Koreans from Japan, indigenous people from Peru, blacks from Africa and Muslims from France have experienced exclusion.

“Because of their own movements, I think people should become more aware of these culture’s struggles along with the struggles of African-Americans,” Banks said.

Banks wants people to teach children to understand the world from different perspectives.

Banks ended the speech with a quote from Irish philosopher Edmund Burke, stating “service is the rent we pay for living.”

Dagni Brederen, an English professor, liked the aspect of Banks’ speech that talked about how people should integrate regional, global, national and cultural aspects into their relationships.

James Ochwa-Echel, director for the Interdisciplinary Center for Global Diversity, is part of the organization that brought Banks, an expert in multicultural experiences and diversity, to campus. The Interdisciplinary Center for Global Diversity promotes education for students in African American Studies, Asian Studies, Latin American Studies and Women’s Studies programs on campus.

“I wanted students to get more experience from his knowledge,” Ochwa-Echel said.

Heather Holm can be reached at 581-7942 or at [email protected]