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Black History Lecture Discusses Unity

By Kendra Eash

Ronald Richardson, director of the African-American Studies program at Boston University, spoke about the importance of creating and fostering global identities in order to overcome cultural differences last night in the last of a series of talks celebrating of Black History Month last night.

“We must engage in a discussion of the possibility of creating global identity over and above local identities,” Richardson said. “I believe there is an inherent moral disposition in humanity and that believers for peace find hope in human nature.”

Richardson’s talk touched on the importance in establishing global ties in order to begin to solve many problems facing America, including the situation in the Middle East, racism and the events of Sept. 11.

“There must be an analytical search for common humanity and a mounting national campaign for education,” Richardson said. “Public schools can encourage universalism and global studies, and the president should take national initiative in creating global institutions.”

Richardson reflected on America’s response to the events of Sept. 11 and the current foreign policy toward Afghanistan, asking if there was not a better way to deal with conflicting groups within the country. Although he praised President Bush for his appeals to world unity and compassion, Richardson warned against excessive use of military power and unilateralism by the American government.

“Military action has its limits,” Richardson said. “A prolonged air war could create great suffering.”

Instead of prolonging a military attack or continually imposing force upon the Afghan people, Richardson proposed a more collaborative and intellectual approach in reconstructing Afghanistan.

“We can enlarge the lines of communication and commit ourselves to the reconstruction of Afghanistan,” Richardson said. “We should encourage the active participation of every American in a people-to-people exchange.”

Myung Kim, a visiting professor from Korea teaching cross-cultural studies at BU, contributed to Richardson’s discussion, agreeimg the United States was not concentrating enough on global awareness and global impact in dealing with Afghanistan.

“Why are Americans always privileging American life over other lives?” Kim asked. “This is not just an American problem.”

Richardson then related the problems of cultural differences in Afghanistan to the problems of conflicting identities across the globe and in America, promoting the cultivation of universal ties over the restrictions group identities impose.

“We must project our diversity to the world, including the pain of conquest slavery and racism,” Richardson said. “Right now the connections that exist and the benefits from those connections are not well known.”

Richardson promoted the suppression of historical group conflict in order to foster overarching group ties.

He discussed the current conflict in South Africa as well as racial tensions existing in the United States in order to show the need for “forgetting” differences that arise from past ills and actively seeking out common unity.

“There are pragmatic reasons people should be concerned with Africa,” Richardson said. “Because black people have been so despised historically, if we can show Black Nationalism, we can increase collaboration.”

Richardson expressed hope for increasing global unity in emphasizing the current rise of global capitalism and communications. He encouraged the fostering of global cultural education in order to overcome further global differences.

“We have an emergence of global consciousness in the communications revolution and the emergence of English as a universal language,” Richardson said. “Now we need to multiply the benefits that can derive from building connections through global labor unions and collaborative scholarly work.”

Lehong Weng, a first-year graduate student in American studies at BU, agreed with Richardson’s ideas and saw the importance of his message.

“I think the talk was important in understanding global perspectives and the relation between African-American experience and human experience,” Weng said. “We must see that people are more connected than segregated and that it is important to cultivate a sense of community to foster equal relationships.”

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