“We need more teachers of color. We need more teachers who are very conscious of these issues, and who are really prepared to do the work,” graduate student Nana Brantuo said.
“Colorblindness has been so tied into the curriculum throughout the United States. It’s really time to break that. It’s time to teach what’s happening. It’s time to teach what’s real.”
Students, faculty and the public gathered to discuss Black Lives Matter in education systems, speakers unabashed and unafraid to voice their opinions Wednesday evening.
The College of Education Graduate Student organization hosted the event in the Special Events room of McKeldin Library, where a crowd of about 110 listened engaged in an open dialogue. Dr. Roger Worthington, professor and chair of the Department of Counseling, Higher Education and Special Education, facilitated the discussion.
Much of the conference concerned methods of teaching the importance of recognizing racism in the education system and how it affects students.
“I think what stuck out … was the different perspectives of people,” graduate student Sharice Davis said. “I think it was really good they had people of different levels of education.”
When asked if the university is making sufficient strides for black lives, freshman business major Abdul Sow said, “Not really, but I feel like it’s a start with the Black Lives Matter initiative … I don’t think it’s enough but it’s a good start with this event.”
Stephany Galvan, a senior at Woodrow Wilson High School, said she realized racism could be undone in the future.
“Not everything is written in stone,” Galvan said as she flipped through her note-filled pages from the panel. “This thing can stop, which is amazing because it seems like a never-ending problem.”
One student asked how the Black Lives Matter movement can shed light on majority black college athletics such as basketball and football that do not pay athletes. Many student athletes have been known to go to bed hungry because they are not being paid, according to CNN and various other news outlets.
Another topic discussed was dealing with being the other in spaces where only color and not work ethic is recognized.
“You don’t own anybody an explanation for anything. You’re here [as a student], you’re in the same classes and that’s that. Of course we feel the pressure when we’re in these spaces … to work harder … continue to do what you’re doing as a scholar,” said panelist and Graduate Coordinator for Black Student Involvement and Advocacy Tia Dolet.
Many topics of the night resonated in different ways for attendees.
“I’m me and there’s nothing you can do to change that,” Nwamaka Ejioga, a sophomore biology major, said. “I am Nigerian and it won’t change. I was born here [in the U.S.], but still, I’m Nigerian as much as I am American. I can’t keep conforming to what people think … You can take it or leave it, but I’m not changing.”
Featured Photo Credit: Julian Hipkins (center), curriculum specialist of Teaching for Change and award winning history teacher, spoke at the Black Lives Matter Town Hall meeting in the special events room of McKeldin Library to discuss the role of education in civil rights. When discussing solidarity with Black Lives Matter, he said that it was about “reminding students that we are living in a civil rights movement now.” Pictured left, Nana Brantuo. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)
Makayla Johnson is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.