City College held an eye-opening speech on West Campus to raise awareness about white privilege and memorialize a past student who was beaten to death by a group of racists on State Street in 1990.
Tim Wise was the keynote speaker for the 25 annual Leonardo Dorantes Memorial Lecture that City College held at 12:45 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10, in the Garvin Theatre.
Wise is an anti-racist author and educator who has written seven books, spoken at hundreds of colleges around the United States and appeared on multiple television and radio broadcasts. His speech on Tuesday was titled “Resurrecting Apartheid, from Ferguson to the Voting Booth to the Border — Combating Racism in the Post-Obama Era.” The focus was on topics such as white privilege, police brutality and discrimination in housing and the work force.
“I know that sometimes when we use terminology that’s honest, people get nervous because we don’t believe in honest language in this country,” Wise said. “We rarely referred to our country as formal system of white supremacy or an apartheid state, but that’s what we were.”
Wise went on to explain that often times when he says that American society is currently retracting back toward an apartheid, people get uncomfortable with his extreme honesty.
“I thought it was a really great opportunity for students to learn more about racial tensions because obviously it’s a pretty big thing in America right now,” said City College student Chase Markytan.
Wise emphasized throughout the lecture that white people have the luxury of being oblivious to the struggles of other races, without it negatively affecting their everyday lives.
“Overall, I think he touched on a lot of important aspects of today’s society,” said Noel Gomez, extended opportunity programs and services adviser and personal development instructor.
Wise concluded his speech by stating that people need to listen to the wisdom of those they’ve been taught to ignore, something that students in the audience agreed with.
“There needs to be a lot of work done regarding race in America and everybody can play a part in making a positive change by sharing their experiences and trying to get involved with the community,” Markytan said.
Superintendent-President Dr. Lori Gaskin presented the Peter A. Alevra Memorial Award at the event to Alejandra Lesser, an English as a Second Language student at City College. Professors in the department nominated students who had financial need and a desire to serve the Santa Barbara community.
The Leonardo Dorantes Memorial Lecture committee chose Lesser to receive this year’s award. She won a $1,000 scholarship for her notable community outreach, such as volunteering at an affordable immigration office, advising peers in the english as a second language department, and providing food and clothing to the homeless. Once Lesser completes the English as a Second Language program in the spring, she plans to join the culinary arts program at City College with the hopes of eventually becoming a chef.