Karith Foster brings “Stereotyped 101” to Kent State

Kent State’s YAL chapter had the pleasure of hosting humorist Karith Foster last week for her “Stereotyped 101” lecture. As we all know, this week has been tense for the nation, and our campus was one of the many who held protests against the results of the 2016 Presidential election. After 18 months of a tumultuous campaign cycle, electoral politics is more divided than ever. Tensions are still high; they were high before the elections and they will be high after. As Karith said, “I don’t want to raise my kids in this crazy, crazy world; that’s why I am out here doing this.”

This week’s national turmoil only made Karith’s lecture that much more important. She spoke about her desire to see a society that included more #inversity (her answer for the diversionary “diversity”). Her lecture focused on seeing the world through the perspective of others, appreciating each others differences and finding common ground anyway. Though the lecture was amazing, funny, and engaging with lots of personal anecdotes of Karith’s experiences with diversity and inclusion in her life I felt it reached out and could be appreciated by anyone. I came away with two things that really stuck out to me during her presentation:
1. We cannot move liberty forward if we do not appreciate and sympathize with other cultures beyond our own. The message is pure and all encompassing, we know it is the solution, we must frame it to solve problems unique to all sides of our melting pot nation.
2. The message must always be spread with love. Violence begets violence. Peace begets peace. We cannot forge a free and peaceful society with hate. Moving forward, after the deep divisions of the last year and regardless of who we support politically, we must focus our principles with compassion for our fellow man; even if they disagree with us. Everyone is a potential convert, everyone.

After the show, Karith joined myself and our YAL chapter for dinner and we discussed the topics more in depth and, of course, our thoughts on the election. Her perspective was fascinating and our political differences didn’t keep us from analyzing the state of our political discourse critically and objectively. I HIGHLY recommend that you all host Karith at your campus, especially if you want to recruit a more diverse and a wider spectrum of political thought into your chapters.

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