Where Are We Now?

Where Are We Now?

Courtesy of www.higheredgeblog.com

By Amari D. Pollard '17, NEWS & FEATURES EDITOR

“Conversations that facilitate open discussions about race in the United States and around the world are what will help to enrich us as a society,” said guest speaker Patrick Williams during a talk on race, class and privilege.

“These are not easy topics, these are not easy issues, not only in this school but in this country,” Williams said. “So to have these kinds of conversations is very courageous and very brave.”

Last Thursday in Grewen Auditorium, Williams, a Le Moyne alumnus joined Le Moyne students and faculty for the event “Fifty Years Later: Where Are We Now?” to discuss what it means to be young and educated during a time when racial tragedies are steadily rising throughout America. The event was sponsored by Le Moyne’s Amnesty and Sociology clubs, and facilitated by seniors Kailey McDonald and India Bolden Maisonet.

Students and faculty examined the social, economic and political ways in which race impacts our society, along with how in order to fix it people need to understand that there are multiple sides to the problem.

For the night’s event Grewen received a little facelift. Instead of the usual setup all the chairs were placed in a circle to ensure a more relaxed group discussion. McDonald and Maisonet said they didn’t want it to feel like a classroom where professors are speaking at you, the arrangement was meant to encourage open dialogues between participants.

To begin, everyone introduced themselves and explained why they decided to join the conversation. When asked why they decided to attend, most said they wanted an opportunity to hear other people’s opinions on issues of race and talk about a topic that people tend to shy away from.

“Racism is a problem, because racism also brings about stereotypes and prejudices,” said freshman Alice Olom. “Instead of talking about it we usually just think of it as a taboo and I would just like to hear what everyone else has to say about it.”

Le Moyne criminology, anthropology and sociology professor Jon Carter said he attended because, with recent events involving racial police brutality throughout the United States, ideas of race and racial archetypes are starting to shift.

“We’re in a very tumultuous political moment, and I think that it’s a very exciting time to start reframing ideas and to start reshaping definitions,” said Carter.

With recent racial events like Ferguson, and one that happened on Le Moyne’s campus where a student dressed in ‘black face’ for the annual Halloween Dance, it seems there is no better time to address these issues than now.

“As young, educated individuals and the future generation of this country we need to be addressing our issues, questions, and concerns with each other, not avoiding them,” said Maisonet. “If these type of events are the first steps toward that goal than I can’t think of a single reason why I wouldn’t be spending my time making these things happen.”

McDonald was blown away by how successful the event was. She said she was prepared for a sparse crowd and limited participation but everyone in attendance [around 45 people] was willing to tackle some uncomfortable topics. McDonald hopes to continue those types of conversations on campus throughout this academic year and beyond.

“I think it’s important [to discuss issues of race within our society] because this myth that we are ‘colorblind’ or post-racial today has finally boiled over, and we’re seeing this in Ferguson, in Florida, all over the place,” said McDonald. “I think we can prevent things like Michael Brown’s death and the riots in Ferguson, but not by being quiet. We have to start with a conversation, and Le Moyne is just as good a place as anywhere.”