“Real World” Graduate Presents Diversity Seminar


On Jan. 19, New Student Orientation (NSO) hosted “Diversity with Mohammed Bilal” in the Leon Lowenstein building’s 12th Floor Lounge. Best known as a housemate on the third season of MTV’s “The Real World,” Bilal combined spoken word poetry and raps with the life lessons he learned in the “Real World” house to give a presentation on his twelve steps to appreciating diversity. Bilal’s advice included: knowing yourself so that you can know others, looking for commonality and learning the difference between true dislike and prejudice.

Bilal often presents the same lessons on diversity in the summer three-day orientation for Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC)’s incoming freshmen. However, according to Nusrat Jahan, FCLC ’13 and one of this year’s orientation coordinators, Hurricane Irene led to the cancellation of the first day. Bilal’s presentation was then postponed to this month.

Bilal said that since the group was smaller this time, it allowed him to include more audience participation and questions. His 12 steps to appreciating diversity are:

1: Admit to being a “homogene” lacking diversity. Verbalization of the problem allows one to recognize their homogeneity and create a foundation for growth.

2: Know yourself so that you can know others.

3: Look for commonality. Link with people that are different to create diversity and allow for resilience.

4: Use any and every opportunity of meeting someone from a different culture as an opportunity to learn and teach.

5: Try not to judge others.

6: Break one cultural habit with another. Immerse yourself in different cultures.

7: Be sensitive, respectful and apologize. Things in life are going to get messed up so never fail to apologize.

8: Travel.

9: Read. Read words, imagery and space. Realize that not people have different special parameters and that some are more comfortable excluding others from that space.

10: Learn another language, as they are the symbol of a culture.

11: Learn the difference between true dislike and prejudice.

12: Turn to your personal source of light––your own personal thing that motivates you.

One student said that he appreciated the speech’s relevancy to this university.

“Fordham is very diverse,” Amanawil Lemi, FCLC ’13, said, “and that makes Fordham an especially great school. You get to interact with people of different races and religions and learn about their perspectives.”