Dean Terrence Williams will lead a discussion on the concept of the “Invisible Other”
Non-black people of color are frequently left out of conversations on race in America. Ursinus’ assistant dean of students Terrence Williams is trying to counteract this.
Williams is making this issue the focus of one of his talks in the U-Speak series. The talk is titled “The Invisible Other: The Silencing of non-European-American/non-African-Americans in America’s Culture Clash” and will take place on Nov. 10th at 6 p.m. in Unity House.
The issue of ‘invisible others’ is something that is starting to get attention in national media. CNN article “Race and racism in the 2016 campaign” discussed how Donald Trump is working to “enhance his image among minority voters, particularly African-Americans and Latinos.” The article went on to mention that Trump polls in the single digits among black voters.
The U-Speak series was started by Williams this year as a way to discuss issues of diversity and inclusion on the Ursinus Campus. He currently facilitates all of the U-Speak talks, but is hoping to include other presenters in the future once the series gains momentum.
His decision to include the Invisible Other in his series was inspired by a desire to start a conversation about people he has seen being excluded from everyday discourses on race.
According to Williams, the idea is something that is prevalent but doesn’t have a fully established vocabulary.
“The Invisible Other is not really a concept that I know of. I don’t think that language is used, so it’s something that I believe I invented,” said Williams. “It comes from a weird place, but in correctional facilities there’s a lot of racial tension.”
“You have the black side of the house and the white side of the house and then basically everybody else is their own group. They are literally called the ‘others,’” Williams elaborated. “So I was thinking in real life of the ‘others.’ How if you turn on the news, if it’s an incident that involves race—racial injustice, racial inclusion, racial exclusion—it’s almost 99% chance of it being addressing a person of African descent with regard to a person of European descent.”
Williams explained how these broader social issues apply to campus life.
“When we’re talking about inclusion we’re talking about everyone. I wanted to, in the USpeak series, give space and make space for that conversation,” he said. “When we talk about having a campus conversation about race I bet we’re not thinking about what it’s like to be Filipino on this campus.”
He noted that this conversation has been continually absent from politics as well.
“We’re not talking about the Asian vote,” said Williams. “Have you heard either candidate talk about their plans for the Asian community? It’s white, black, and emerging Hispanic. How many ‘others’ are there in this country? How many ‘others’ are we not even talking about? It’s a fallacy if everyone doesn’t have a stake in it.”
Williams has been consciously attempting to send a message of inclusion as he prepares for this talk. He explained
Each talk in the series follows a slightly different format depending on the subject matter. For this talk Williams said, “I think I’m going to give more background than I usually do. So this one will feel more informational because it is a new concept. After that, depending on whether people are there to find out what it is or if people are there because they feel like the other, there could be different directions where the conversation could go.”
According to Williams, “We’re flexible in Unity House and in the office of Diversity and Inclusion. We’re trying to meet the needs of the people. If it can be a place to bring voice for the voiceless or if it can be a place to shed light on that, then I’m just going to get out of the way and let that be the content.”
All students are encouraged to attend the talk. It will include discussions that focus on issues that impact both the Ursinus community and broader national discourses on race in America.