Filmmaker addresses discrimination

In Campus News, News

The audience at the Titan Student Union was advised by Lee Mun Wah, an acclaimed filmmaker and diversity trainer, to recognize that discrimination still exists and to fight against it by actually making a connection with people.

The presentation, “An Unfinished Conversation: Student Dialogs with Lee Mun Wah” began with silence.

“The reason why I stopped talking is because I wanted to see your faces,” Mun Wah said. “It’s important to me that I see you.”

He said that in western culture everyone tends talk when there’s nothing really to say—particularly around election time, he added.

Mun Wah founded StirFry Seminars & Consulting Inc., which conducts diversity training programs for corporate, government, educational and social service agencies. The company set up the presentation with Cal State Fullerton.

Mun Wah emphasized the importance of people building relationships with each other and actually getting to know one another.

He constantly questioned the audience.

He facilitated an illuminating experiment when asking, “what does diversity mean to you?”

Mun Wah gave his microphone to audience members that answered and had them introduce themselves.

The audience members Mun Wah chose to answer were predominantly white males.

Yet no one made a remark until Mun Wah pointed out that fact.

“I have been consciously practicing sexism,” Mun Wah said. “I validated every single man that talked.”

Mun Wah wanted to point out how subtle sexism could be. And even if it was obvious to some, he then asked why not speak up.

He then said people see through their own lens, which can exclude others—such as women, people of other races.

Mun Wah emphasized that racism and discrimination still exists.

“And just because you don’t talk about it, doesn’t mean it goes away,” Mun Wah said. “Just because you don’t do it, doesn’t mean it goes away.”

Mun Wah then had what he called an “involuntary volunteer” come up. The audience member’s name was Rodney and he was in a wheelchair.

The discussion turned to how others treat people in wheelchairs. Responses like “speak louder,” “keep a distance,” cropped up.

“It doesn’t bother me anymore,” Rodney said.

Rodney said being victimized by violent crime landed him in the wheelchair.

“I had to prepare myself for a different life,” Rodney said.

A workshop session for students followed the keynote speech.

Trina Tan, administrative chair of the Association for Intercultural Awareness, said the workshop session would include role playing, personal stories, and small group interaction.

Tan encouraged everyone to really invest in the workshop.

In the evening, Mun Wah’s film, “Last Chance for Eden,” was screened.

“Last Chance for Eden” is a six-part film series on racism and sexism that was released in 2003. It features nine men and women discussing these issues in the workplace, in their families and own relationships as well as in their communities.

Mun Wah’s film credits also include “Stolen Ground” and “The Color of Fear” series. His latest film project is “If These Halls Could Talk,” featuring 11 college students.

Juanita Razo associate dean of students for Leadership & Multicultural Development Programs said Lee Mun Wah “lives what he speaks.”

Razo said the program was sponsored by the university’s Offices of Academic Affairs and Student Affairs, Mihaylo College of Business and Economics, College of Health and Human Development, School of Nursing, Counseling Department, Freshman Programs, Association for Intercultural Awareness, Multicultural Leadership Center, International Education and Exchange, Women’s Center, Housing and Residence Life and Greek Life.

Ngoc-Minh Nguyen, internal vice president of the Vietnamese Student Association on campus, attended Mun Wah’s presentation, wanting to bring something back to her club.

“I wanted to do some self-improvement,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen said she learned to “step out of our comfort zone, go up to a person” and start dialogue.

“You want that conversation, you can’t wait for it,” said Mun Wah.

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