Actor and activist Monti Washington spoke on discrimination and the social implications during the “Which Lives Matter” event, Oct. 14 via Zoom.
About 25 attended the event, which was sponsored by the Campus Activities Board.
Washington said the world we live in currently has growing issues of diversity and inclusivity, and many people are not addressing these issues or having the necessary conversations around them.
“By not normalizing these hard conversations we are allowing ignorance to permeate,” Washington said. He said he prioritizes these conversations.
“These conversations … need to be talked about to be able to grow and educate yourself,” said Melissa Ochoa, junior political science major who coordinated the event for CAB.
Washington said judgments about a person’s race are made because we do not know their story, and there is a tendency to dehumanize one another which can make it harder to relate because it pushes to dismiss, deny, and divide.
“We dismiss someone’s feelings which leads to denying their experience and finally dividing us because of our differences,” Washington said. “This is done through implicit bias and microaggressions.”
Implicit bias and microaggressions are actions based on stereotypes associated with certain groups of people, Washington said. Even small comments could have major implications that may be unnoticed by those who are making those statements.
“We don’t treat each other as people and we don’t see people as people because of the color of your skin or sexual orientation, or gender expression,” said Washington.
Washington also brought up the notion of privilege and the ways in which we all inhabit spaces differently in the world. For instance, a woman’s experience in the world will differ from a man’s experience.
“Me being a male in a male-dominated society means I have privilege and I learned this by being called out for some of the sexist comments I made inadvertently,” Washington said. “It didn’t occur to me because I thought women walked the same way I did.”
Unnoticed privilege can lead to conflict between people who do not have the same experiences.
“Come from a place of love and understanding. No matter how ignorant, racist, homophobic, sexist, etc., coming from a place of love helps understand the other side,” Washington said.