Photo credit: Jovanna Garcia

Hundreds discuss race and diversity at BLM teach-in

October 11, 2016

Jovanna Garcia

A mix of presenters and open discussion from students, faculty and community members filled the Arts and Humanities building during a two-day teach-in about black lives matter.

Hundreds gathered Oct. 10 and 11 to extend conversation from the Sept. 26 police victims rally and Sept. 28 candlelight vigil. English department chair Tracy Butts orchestrated the event and received overwhelming support from fellow colleges.

English Department Chair Tracy Butts hosts the black lives matter teach-in. Photo credit: Jovanna Garcia

English Department Chair Tracy Butts hosts the black lives matter teach-in. Photo credit: Jovanna Garcia

“I thought it would be interesting to reach out to colleges and have them demonstrate how they’re talking about these subjects in their classes and disciplines,” Butts said.

Butts originally planned for one day of teaching but drew enough support for two days instead. Faculty spoke about Chico State civil rights movements, environmental racism and ended the final day with an open conversation.

Some professors offered extra credit for attendance, others brought entire classes to the conversation and many attended out of genuine interest. President Gayle Hutchinson was among attendees adding to the conversation.

“For some students, I think the university is the first time in their entire life they’ve had the opportunity to experience diversity and diverse perspectives and encounter homophobia, racism, sexism etcetera,” she said.

If first-years could receive prior education about race and diversity, a gateway for discussion might emerge, President Hutchinson said.

President Gayle Hutchinson speaks about diversity at Chico State during a black lives matter teach-in. Photo credit: Jovanna Garcia

President Gayle Hutchinson speaks about diversity at Chico State during a black lives matter teach-in. Photo credit: Jovanna Garcia

An undeclared first-year student, Jordin Molock, challenged the campuses requirement for sexual misconduct awareness to raising awareness of black lives matter.

“We had to take the ‘Not Anymore,’ because rape is a serious topic,” Molock said. “If you see (black lives matter) as a serious matter, let’s have a survey and talk about the results because if ‘not anymore’ is important, I think black lives mattering and us getting killed ‘not anymore’ is important too.”

Egypt Howard, the assistant program coordinator for Cross-Cultural Leadership Center, spearheaded the rally and sees an open door for conversations about people of color issues after the teach-in.

“I think one of the biggest outcomes of this is that we, the black community, realized there are a lot more allies on campus than we initially thought we had,” Howard said. “It gives us the opportunity to reach out to people when we need that support.”

Although no further teach-ins or rallies are scheduled, Butts says the conversation may continue in a different form.

“I think a modified version perhaps a lunch hour so people can have the ability to wander in and out (would work),” she said. “Setting a block of time once a month or maybe challenging the seven academic colleges to host (a discussion). Moving our way over from college to college.”

Jenice Tupolo and Jovanna Garcia can be reached at [email protected] or @jaytupolo and @Jo_Garcia19 on Twitter.

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