Over a hundred students, community and faculty members filled City College’s communication lab Tuesday night for a discussion with activists of the Black Lives Matter organization.
“Let’s Talk: A Conversation About Race,” hosted by Sigma Chi Eta in partnership with the Black Student Union, discussed controversial topics including white privilege, institutional racism and significance of the Black Lives Matter organization.
Sarah Hock, communication professor and advisor of the honor society, joined a panel discussion with Glenn Waco, a leader in the Portland police protests. Chiany Dri, president of the black student union, and Jon Rodgers, vice president of the union, and Dr. Nicole Haggard, whose work focuses on race and social media, also joined the panel.
Hock asked the activists questions throughout the discussion regarding race and privilege.
“This was a large turnout for a conversation that was so necessary,” said Hock.
Over the past year, events such as the Ferguson and Baltimore riots sparked action from the black community to bring police brutality to an end and rebuild the black liberation movement.
“The system has failed us all,” said Rodgers.
Each panelist answered questions on behalf of their own beliefs of what needs to happen to change society’s perspectives of minorities. They also talked about how the education system needs to address black history.
“Anything that you don’t have to think about when you wake up in the morning,” said Dri, referring to white privilege.
Coming together and acknowledging racism and white privilege is still a major issue and is key in understanding that if “all lives mattered,” then this discussion wouldn’t exist.
This prompted a conversation of what white privilege meant to each of the panelists.
In a short questions and answers, several audience members shared their experiences of prejudice and asked questions handling situations of discrimination. The panel stressed how taking action against these stereotypes is the first step.
What’s important is that we “keep talking, connect with other people that care,” said Haggard and to recognize the importance of “our whiteness.”
The night closed out with a hip-hop performance by Waco and a spoken word by musician Alia Zin.
Zuri Smith, a City College student and member of the Black Student Union is happy to be a part of a larger conversation about the movement that isn’t “sugar coated.” “More stuff like this needs to happen [on campus],” she said.