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Jim Banks Cutural Diversity Officer at Suffolk Community Col

March 16, 2007 @ 12:00 am EDT


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This morning’s meeting was a little unusual, but I’ve said that in the past about other meetings. So maybe unusual is the norm for us.
James Banks is the Coordinator of Multicultural Affairs of Suffolk County Community College.
We had the pleasure of hearing Jim at this morning’s LIMBA meeting. Mr. Banks began by giving each of us a list of stereotypes and groups and asked us to match the stereotype with the group. Among the matchings were; policeman =donuts and Pakistanis= 7-11 franchisees. We all had the matches nearly the same. He then went on to tell us that a group of new arrivals to America would have not done “as well” as we did in the matching. Their preconceived notions would not have been developed yet.
He then gave us a little exercise in non-verbal communications to demonstrate that messages are given and perceived even when nothing is being said.
The purpose to these exercises are to demonstrate that we hold beliefs that are prejudicial. The word “prejudice” or pre judge really tells the story. By sensitizing ourselves to these pre-set traps we can avoid responding in a stereotypical way.
Jim is a muscular looking man and is a former US Marine Sergeant. He belies his own masculine stereotype by engaging in non traditional activities for a man. His hobbies include, sewing, crocheting and quilting. He even organized an all male crocheting club. On the other hand he also enjoys pocket billiards, basketball, singing, and poetry writing. Each of these activities summon up an image and conclusions that, as they say in the song,  “It Aint Necessarily So”
Learning things about perception, as we did this morning is fun, even though at a deeper level we already knew them to be true.  
It was a tough morning to get out on the road, but for those of us who did, it was worth it.