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Friday, June 14, 2024
The Observer

Share stories: Show Some Skin

When it comes to discussions about racial and ethnic diversity at Notre Dame, we often focus on numerical data that show progress, or lack thereof: the percentages of students and faculty of color on campus, the under-representation of minorities in fields like science and engineering, the increase in minority student clubs, etc. As a 1984 graduate, I have seen much-needed progress in diversity at Notre Dame, especially in the last 20 years.

Numbers provide only a glimpse, however. To truly understand race and ethnicity, and make meaningful progress in race relations, it's crucial to get at the nuances of people's experiences. Telling one's story is an especially powerful means of unraveling stereotypes and misconceptions that we often impute upon others. At the very least, the storyteller defines the experience; he or she becomes the author/authority of his or her own day-to-day living.

As one education researcher has found, storytelling can also "create collective transformational spaces, co-constructing knowledge about self, further deepening our understandings about the role of race ... through sharing our stories ... we can show empathy, allowing for participants to express themselves as racialized beings. Sharing these experiences not only help students cope with racism, but also provides a space to affirm the lived experiences and knowledge of others."

Show Some Skin: The Race Monologues, a new student-organized performance planned for March, is an exciting opportunity for Notre Dame students, faculty, staff and alumni — minority and majority — to share experiences of race and ethnicity. By telling our stories — the humorous, embarrassing, sad, exciting, frustrating, preposterous and beautiful — we can come to a better understanding of the complexity of race and hopefully affirm the experiences and knowledge of each other.

Cecilia Lucero


Class of 1984

Jan. 29

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.