By Mark Wadland
Students and faculty gathered in the Ecumenical Center to discuss diversity and discrimination on Wednesday, Dec. 4. Six students performed skits and monologues to demonstrate to the audience how they had experienced discrimination in some form firsthand.
FSU student Fernando Rodriguez, who gave the introduction to the event, warned the audience that there would be some foul language during the performances, and said that some people may get uncomfortable during the event. Rodriguez explained later that this discomfort was important, because it showed that the groups’ monologues and skits impacted the audience in a significant way.
The first story was Nuzaiba Haider’s, who reenacted how she had been discriminated against during her senior year of high school because she is Muslim. This discrimination made her very upset, and showed how inconsiderate and cruel some people can be simply because they make assumptions that all Muslims are terrorists. Haider then said that her family was also discriminated against because of their faith.
Tony Nardone, the second performer, told the audience that he has been called a “baby killer” by people at FSU. He has also been told that just because he is a veteran of the U.S. Army, he must be an alcoholic, hate everyone who is from the Middle East and beat up everyone he does not like.
Nardone said, “It’s your right under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution to say all of those things, but it doesn’t make you right.”
Benni Gonzalez, the next performer, said that he was insulted by a resident assistant, who used a derogatory racial slur. Gonzalez said the RA was not even affected by what he had told Gonzalez. Gonzalez told the audience that he did not know how to handle the situation – he did not know whether to fight the RA or just walk away. He also said he did not know how to deal with his emotions at first, but he knew that getting @red up about it would not yield any positive outcome.
Jacquelina Fontes, another skit performer, said she was harassed three weeks ago in the cafeteria, either because of her looks, or because her harasser was making a crack at his own friend, who is visually impaired. Either way, she felt uncomfortable by his comments.
The fifth performer, Yue Chen, was discriminated against by his own classmates during a math class. He found that they tried to copy off of him because of a stereotype that Asians excel at math. However, he was able to get back at them on the next exam by completing the test backwards. Still, he did not feel good about it because they had assumed he only does well on his exams because he is Asian, not because he works hard in class.
The final performer, Josey Fontes, was not allowed to take an exam because she was late to class. However, on the next exam, she noticed that two of her classmates arrived late, yet they were both allowed to take the exam. When she confronted her professor about this issue, he said that she was used as a “sacrificial lamb” to enforce his policy in class. Fontes later went over his head to the head of the department, who told her not to worry about it and that she would talk to the professor about the issue. The class ended up going well, and the problem was resolved.
The performers then discussed the issue of discrimination with the audience, some of whom felt that derogatory terms are acceptable in some situations. Others believed it is never suitable to use these terms.
Jacquelina said, “I felt as though I was making a difference [by performing at the event]. I was making it known for students and faculty not to be scared to talk about [discrimination] if they feel uncomfortable.”
[Editor’s note: Tony Nardone is a staff writer for The Gatepost.]