Race Machine gives students a new face

by Beacon Staff • April 9, 2008

The booth, called the "Human Race Machine," is part of Emerson's Fifth Annual Forum on the State of Diversity, hosted by the Center for Diversity.,On April 11, Emerson students will be able to sit in a photo booth and see what they would look like as members of a different race.

The booth, called the "Human Race Machine," is part of Emerson's Fifth Annual Forum on the State of Diversity, hosted by the Center for Diversity.

The theme is: "The World and Emerson College Are Changing. Are You?"

Gloria Noronha-Peschau, a staff assistant at the Center for Diversity, said the Human Race Machine, which has been used in previous diversity forums, will promote thought and put participants in someone else's shoes.

"It could be taken one of two ways," she said. "On the surface level answering curiosity as to 'What would I look like?' Or, on a deeper level, giving students an introspective look as to how their lives would be impacted."

Noronha-Peschau said the event is also about reflection.

"I think diversity is overrated," said sophomore writing, literature and publishing major Malinda Davis. "Yeah, we should have different kinds of people, but I think it would be best if we didn't have to have meetings about it."

Davis said that a diversity council emphasizes the difference between races, furthering the problem.

"Why not just be humans?" Davis said. "I'm people. You're people. We're all people. Get over your color."

She said she thinks events like the Forum on the State of Diversity go too far however.

Seth Brown said this and past events like Campus Conversations on Race, helped him to better grasp of how minorities are treated.

"If people think that it's insulting their intelligence, then they don't have to go," Brown, a sophomore film production major said. "It's not forced."

The event will host panels during the week intended to take students' thoughts on diversity a step further, and will include discussions of current events and will also play host to guest lecturers.

Other events include a poetry slam that allows listeners to talk back, a dance contest modeled around the ABC show "Dancing with the Stars" and a performance of the play Rant! written and directed by Emerson junior screenwriting major Paloma Valenzuela.

Junior television/video major Brook Runyan said he feels problems with diversity at Emerson do not reflect student awareness, but rather Emerson's recruiting, admissions and financial aid.

"The students have been talking about the lack of diversity at Emerson for years," he said. "It is Emerson that needs to change."

Emerson's student body is 76.1 percent Caucasian, 6.1 percent Hispanic, 4.2 percent Asian, 2.7 percent black, 2.5 percent international and .6 percent American Indian, according to statistics published on Emerson's Web site.