digital collegian
Thursday, April 11, 1996

Speaker, audience address culture

Collegian Staff Writer

Audience members actively participated in a discussion about discipline, image and culture last night with keynote speaker Edward James Olmos. The discussion, sponsored by Ebony and Ivory Week, drew about 200 people to Eisenhower Auditorium last night.

Olmos explained one of his mottoes to the audience.

"I learned to discipline myself to do things I didn't want to do," said Olmos. "Now I also discipline myself to do things I love to do when I don't want to do them."

This quote sparked a lot of attention from the crowd.

"I never thought about it before but it makes perfect sense," said Louis McKinney (sophomore-liberal arts). "If it can work for him it can work for anyone else."

Olmos, former Emmy award winner for his role in "Miami Vice," said he began doing things he wanted to do every day for 10 minutes, seven days a week. He continued by explaining that he was not born talented or gifted but that he just wanted to be the best he could be.

One setback Olmos overcame to be the best was dyslexia. He said he did not realize he had the disease until he had his third child and his child was diagnosed with it. One way he solved the problem was by reading every day.

With people representing a variety of ethnic backgrounds in the crowd, Olmos began his speech, titled "We Are All in the Same Gang," which emphasized culture. Through the use of comedy and parody, Olmos explained his heritage and how it relates to the United States. He often spoke Spanish and acted out skits. The audience only responded with laughter.

"I just think he is very eloquent and at the same time grass-roots and blunt -- something we are missing," said Debra Jimenez (graduate-art education).

Olmos said he wants to balance history, not change it. He would like to see many different cultures represented equally in schools.

"I speak in hopes we learn how important culture is," Olmos said. "I want to show how strong I am from my roots."

Olmos said he is Mexican-American and that his roots can go back 40,000 years in the Americas. In addition, Olmos said the United States are fortunate because of the various languages spoken.

However, Olmos said he realizes the prejudices in the country and on campus are demonstrated by hate groups. He compared the recent swastika appearances on campus to "a syndrome of the infected rat." Olmos said if 100 rats need to be killed, the last ones to die will attack the most. He said he feels the same way about prejudice.

"We don't have as much prejudice as we did 40 years ago, but today it is more educated," Olmos said.

The program was sponsored by Alpha Phi Alpha Inc., 203B HUB, the Caribbean Student Association, Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, 10 Wolf, and Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, 524 Locust Lane.

Caribbean Student Association President Gilberthe Jean-Baptiste said that speakers for the week's events typically address only racial issues involving white and black people.

"It's always a black and white issue," she said. "So we wanted to get someone with a different perspective."

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