Whispers of Race: Celebrating Diversity at Wittenberg

Last Wednesday, sophomore Mecca Abdul-Aziz hosted a discussion on race called “Why Black Lives Matter.” The event was an informal discussion and attempt, in light of the political and racial fervor in America, to engage in a campus-wide conversation on race and the ways it is handled and discussed here at Wittenberg.

The discussion was centered around three main questions: 1) Why is the Black Lives Matter campaign relevant, 2) Is the All Lives Matter campaign relevant, and what’s its relation to Black Lives Matter, and 3) If law enforcement does police urban areas, why?

“The reason I chose to do this discussion ‘why do black lives matter,’” Abdul-Aziz said, “was because I felt that there was a need, especially on our campus, because we go to a PWI [predominantly white institution], and we don’t have a lot of race talks.”

The floor was open to all.  Ideas, questions and challenges concerning race floated through the room — systemic racism, the criminalization of blackness, the dehumanization of blacks, America’s history with racism and the overall importance of history in being able to understand the Black lives matter movement at all.

“What ‘Black Lives Matter’ is saying is that Black lives matter, too. The Black Lives Matter movement is an all lives matter movement. It’s inclusive,” John Young, dean of students, said.

But for all the engaged conversation, a crucial piece seemed to be missing.

“I was expecting more white people. I just wanted to pick some people’s brains,” Abdul-Aziz said. “We talk about everything else. Why can’t we talk about race? I feel like people are afraid of that, and I don’t know why.”

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