SAMMI DYSON | NEWS CORRESPONDENT
St. Norbert College’s theme for the year is Solidarity: We Commit to the Common Good. This pledge of unity and willingness to stand with others in times of struggle is universally and eternally important, but it especially takes a stand in the face of the controversies and division that exist.
On Thursday, Feb. 2, members of the SNC community were invited by the Black Student Union to join in a conversation that both kicks off Black History Month on campus and fleshes out what commitment to the common good can really mean. This event was called “Why Black Lives Matter: How to Be an Ally,” and it took place in Fort Howard Theater in the form of a panel discussion. There were six panelists: professors Bolin, Kim, Delano-Oriaran, and Espinosa, and students Becca Brown (’17) and Margaret Uselman (’17).
Those on the panel began by introducing themselves and their relationship to the issue. Though their comments and backgrounds varied, it was clear that the issue of racism and the necessity of allies were important to all of them. After that, the hosts had prepared a series of questions for their guests. The first of these asking: “Why do you feel that it is important to be an ally to the African American community?”
“I think fundamentally, it’s an issue of human dignity. Here at St. Norbert we talk a lot about communio, and we’ve got solidarity flags hanging all over campus, but I think the real question is: is that something that we’re living up to here, in our daily lives, and when we go home? It’s an issue of people being treated as humans, being treated with the respect that they deserve.” responded Becca Brown ‘17.
Later on, the panelists were asked if they supported the Black Lives Matter movement and why. All six panelists said they did, and gave their own reasons for why they support it. Additionally, in the interest of educating the audience further, they were asked how people can be allies to the community. In summary, those ways for people to do so included: supporting black organizations and people of color in the media, calling out others’ bad remarks as well as their own, and listening when others correct them.
“Even when black folks are absent, you still need to speak up…being an ally means: when they’re present I’m speaking up, when they’re not there, I’m still speaking up. I speak up to my family, I speak up to my professors, I speak up to anybody,” said Dr. Delano-Oriaran, Associate Professor of Education and Director of Student Teaching Abroad at St. Norbert College.
Overall, the speakers all were advocates for the black community. Missed out on this event? More programs are happening all month long to celebrate Black History Month, so be sure to look out for other events to attend and show support.