Published: March 02, 2007
first step toward diversity awareness is admitting you have a problem,
according to Mohammed Bilal, a cast member of MTV’s reality show the
Real World San Francisco.
A diversity consultant, Bilal spoke
about the topic to a number of UT students Feb. 28 in the Reeves
Theater. The event was a part of Black History Month and was sponsored
by Student Productions. Bilal started his presentation by having the
students yell, “I am a homogene!”
“We are all uncomfortable with difference,” he said. “So we are all homogenes in one way or another.”
his speech, which was peppered with poetry and freestyle raps, Bilal
outlined his 12-step program toward diversity awareness. The steps ran
the gamut from finding commonalities to traveling to foreign countries.
second step is to know yourself. For instance, Bilal once met a
transexual woman at a barbecue. Despite his liberal upbringing in San
Francisco, he didn’t like her, but he couldn’t figure out why.
I started to peel back the layers that represent each part of my life,”
he said. “The layers that socialized who I am: the mosque I grew up in,
the media, my blackness.”
He realized it was an experience from
his childhood, when his father denounced transexual prostitutes as
sacrilegious, which caused him to have these feelings of dislike toward
this woman. He decided to reach out to her and become her friend, he
Step six, “the sexy step,” as Bilal called it, is to push your boundaries.
“Once a month, have a culturally different day,” he said.
how to dance merengue, for instance, will make you seem more
sophisticated, attractive and worldly to that special someone, Bilal
told the students.
There is a heartfelt part of him that
appreciates diversity, but there is also a logical part, Bilal said.
Connections made over time broaden horizons and can even help you get a
“Diversity facilitates resiliency,” he said.
Bilal used a different approach, said UT junior Rochelle Davis, giving suggestions she hadn’t heard before.
the simplest circumstances you can make into something,” she said.
“Like when you happen to sit next to someone. It’s easily done.”
and Manatee Community College student Luke Jaeger demonstrated how easy
it was when they volunteered to go on stage and make small talk. The
two students, who had never met before, found out they had a lot in
“Right now, you’re in college,” Bilal said to his
audience of undergrads. “This is the best time for you to interact with
someone who’s different. Find that thing you have a passion for that’s
away from race, gender and ethnicity, and talk about it.”