Blannie Bowen, an African American professor of agricultural education from Pennsylvania State University, insisted that race did matter  
  as he challenged students and faculty to think about what it would be like if whites were a racial minority. Bowen focused his comments on the unique challenges of diversifying colleges of agriculture, which often remain bastions of whiteness in the university. In answer to a query about how to remedy the “chilly climate” for students and faculty of color at the University of Illinois, Bowen asked his audience to expose themselves to cultural differences. Without a trace of irony, he invited them to “have fun,” and then asked them to stretch their imaginations: “Imagine going into a situation where you are the only white person. . . . How often are whites in situations where they are the minority? What would be the effect if this happened more often? What would have happened if, after the Brown decision, a few whites went to all black schools? Would they have lost out on their identity, would they feel uncomfortable, face discrimination, etc?” With these hypothetical reversals, Bowen challenged audience members, most of whom were white, to consider how a white minority would respond to a potentially indifferent or even hostile environment if the tables were turned, and thereby called on them to think more aggressively about how to redress the university’s racial status quo. (Chapter 1)

Read the Report
  Read Rene's response  
  Read dialogue from the Question and Answer portion of the lecture  
Bowen's Lecture - Photo by Rene Bangert