By Dennis Pearson Jr.
The Nubian Ladies, in collaboration with the Black Men’s Alliance, hosted a Black History Month panel discussion on Feb. 13. Students gathered in the SUB’s Multipurpose Room to discuss during a panel on “Misconceptions of Black Men, Women and Culture.”
The event started off with introductions and moved on to an icebreaker for participants to come up with any African-American stereotypes they could think of. Some suggested stereotypes included that they all played basketball, rapped, sold drugs and ate chicken. Other stereotypes were about the “angry black woman,” the “welfare queen” and the single black mother abandoned by her child’s father. These stereotypes and more were immediately refuted with data, studies and statistics.
It seemed that there was a mutual consensus between the panelists, representatives and participants about the importance of education for the black community. The lack of quality education for African-Americans was connected to other problems, such as poverty, institutional racism, low self esteem and the feeling of not belonging. The panel then explained that these issues can be solved through education
Poverty had implications for teen pregnancy, destructive environments, disease, violence, inner divisions, mental health, self preservation, support, productivity, the ability to accumulate wealth, lack of resources, security, trust, cooperation, proper nutrition and family stability. Then the solution discussed included accumulating wealth as best as possible.
The practice of not only saving but investing what little money African-American communities have was discussed as an important habit to create for the future. These communities should learn how to be financially literate by learning about credit card debt, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, budgeting, Roth IRA’s, loans and being a smart consumer, the panel said. Important for the betterment of the people, financial literacy paired with changing mentality from someone of “New Money” to someone of “Old Money” was proposed.
The participants of the panel also criticized contemporary and mainstream hip-hop culture for spreading the mentality of materialism not only to African-American youth but to all of their fans.
Low self esteem and a feeling of not belonging could be put in the same group. Discussed and reflected upon were a feeling of inferiority, relationships, isolation, depression, anxiety, a lack of confidence, self hatred and identity issues. But no one understood the feeling like they don’t belong better than W.E.B. Du Bois. He explained this feeling by writing about the two-ness of African-Americans.
The panel discussed the feeling of low self esteem being connected to the miseducation of blacks, as well as being cut off from their ancient heritage and their original surnames and tribes.
The Western education institution whitewashing black history was another problem reflected upon. Narrowing and manipulating international scholarship involving the black community to the point of making it seem like it has never done anything substantial was reflected upon. The world being taught an unbiased truth about the Black and African diaspora was viewed as an important solution.
The last barrier, institutional racism, was also touched upon. Subsets of this final barrier were media, government and social networks. The very reason stereotypes are stereotypes is because of their propagation by the media, non-blacks and sometimes even blacks themselves. As these stereotypes are perpetuated, a social debt is put on society. The more the stereotypes of any race, nationality or ethnicity are propagated the harder it is to uproot them from society. Even if it’s a joke, the joker must reflect upon themself and ask, “Why do I find this funny? Is it because I believe a small part of it deep inside my heart?”
The panel opened the eyes of those who attended. It was a safe space and at the same time brought the participants out of their comfort zone. This Black History Month panel not only reinforced African-American pasts and its failures and its victories, but also laid a stepping stone for the black future.
Categories: Student Lifestyle