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A New World Order

“Life is a gift.” I really gave those words serious thought following the death of the 22-year-old hip-hop artist Aaliyah in late August. And after the recent terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, those words still ring true — but just a little louder this time.
It doesn’t matter if you’re old, young, successful, married with children, happy or rich, in a fleeting moment your life could be over. All of those people who perished Sept. 11 got up that morning like everybody else thinking it was going to be a normal day. It turned out to be anything but.
Following this month’s horrific events, we should all be a little bit nicer, more patient, tolerant, understanding, sympathetic, and most of all grateful. I have seen some signs of this, but I have also heard otherwise. Just two days after the attacks, American University in Washington received bomb threats, which turned out to be a hoax. And at a time when this country should be united, some people are expending great energies harassing Arab Americans and destroying their places of worship. The same ignorance that causes people to blame all Muslims or Arab Americans for what happened earlier this month is the same mentality of those terrorists who decided to take the lives of innocent Americans. 
Times like these, if they do nothing else, help us put things in perspective and prompt us to prioritize those things that are most important to us. By the time we digested all that had happened in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, our own daily worries and stresses likely paled in comparison to the sorrow and helplessness felt by the victims’ families, friends and colleagues.
We’re all wondering what happens now. The racial profiling of Arab Americans and Muslims has already begun. And many might be wondering how the country’s present mood in light of the attacks will affect the dialogue on reparations for African Americans. Our cover package for this edition focuses on Hispanics in higher education. Recently the president of Mexico, Vicente Fox, visited Washington, meeting with President Bush and addressing Congress to discuss proposals for the United States to provide temporary work visas for Mexicans and grant amnesty to undocumented Mexican immigrants. Will the United States’ beefed up national security measures affect these proposals to “open up” borders between the United States and Mexico? It is difficult to know, but one thing is for certain, our country has changed dramatically since Fox’s visit.
Demographically, however, this country is changing right before our very eyes. African Americans are rapidly becoming the No. 2 minority. For the past few years, we have dedicated a special edition to “Hispanic” issues in higher education. With the exception of perhaps language and immigration issues, Blacks and Hispanics share many of the same challenges — and as a result, we are all trying to improve our lives using education as a tool and equalizer.
“African Americans have struggled so long and hard for our piece of the pie, I don’t think that we’ve spent much time at all thinking about demographic shifts and the fact that we might not be the largest minority group at the table,” says Dr. James Lyons, president of California State University-Dominguez Hills (see story, pg. 24). As always, we hope these series of articles will get you thinking. 

Hilary Hurd

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