The recent indictment in Ferguson may have raised questions about racism in America, but some American University students believe discussing them may be the key to reducing racism among students on college campuses.
On Jan. 24, AU students Tatiana Laing, Angélica Pagán, Fehintola Akinrinade, Chante Harris, and Shannon Trudge hosted a Teach-In for Justice in the Mary Graydon Center, hoping to expand the conversation around race at the university.
“It’s a very uncomfortable, hard conversation to have,” Liang said. “We just don’t talk about race.”
The seven-hour event opened with a poetry reading by Caleen Jennings, a theater professor at AU, followed by the sharing of “six word stories,” or six words that described identity in relation to race. Next came breakout sessions about white privilege and race and discussion about racism at AU over lunch. The day concluded with a reflection.
Laing said that the objective of the Teach-In was to get down to the root of issues surrounding race as well as offer a new perspective on racism at AU.
“It’s not hateful. It’s microaggressions and things that people don’t even know are offensive.”
“It’s usually overt,” Laing said. “It’s not hateful. It’s microaggressions and things that people don’t even know are offensive.”
She hopes to hold the university accountable and reduce the instances of racism experienced on campus, especially since AU prides itself on diversity and inclusion.
More events are planned for this spring. Although the Teach-In alone may not have solved the problem, for Laing, it is just a start.
“It’s the tip of the iceberg in what we want for AU.”