A Different Dialogue

Amarra Ghani Takes on “The Race Card” Project with NPR
Amarra Ghani at NPR

How would you summarize a thought on your identity in six words? It’s a challenge that Amarra Ghani took up while interning at NPR’s The Race Card Project with star journalist Michele Norris. And it’s a challenge that Ghani offered to her audience at a recent campus lecture. Ghani, a December 2012 graduate and co-founder of the Muslim Student Association, came back to UNC Asheville in January to talk about her experience with the groundbreaking radio program.

“It’s a good exercise and a good ice breaker,” Ghani says. “Basically, you have six words and you sum up your race, experience, your identity or what you think about race. … It’s almost like poetry.”

“Basically, you have six words and you sum up your race, experience, your identity or what you think about race. … It’s almost like poetry.” —Amarra Ghani ’13

After earning her degree in mass communication, Ghani was chosen in August for a competitive internship at NPR in Washington, D.C., where she worked as a production assistant on Morning Edition and All Things Considered

For Ghani, dialogue about race starts with honesty. “Saying, you and I are the same isn’t giving the word ‘race’ a fair definition. In most of my work and educational spaces, I was the only Muslim or the only person of South-Asian descent, and that was (and is) OK. Instead of always finding similarities, let’s embrace and celebrate our differences.”

At NPR, she’s been able to explore that dialogue, encourage it in meetings and express herself. 

Her six words? “Don’t talk to me about diversity,” she says, with both humor and seriousness, particularly since she championed the topic at UNC Asheville.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., to Pakistani parents, Ghani found the student body at UNC Asheville respectful of her identity and embracing of the mission of the Muslim Student Organization, which she started with a Jewish student.

“My first year there I was the only student who wore a head cover,” she says. Instead of trying to blend in, she focused on celebrating her uniqueness, and that of others.

“It’s about how different we are and how being different is OK,” she says. “That’s an accurate representation, a better narrative.”