The sociology department of the BU sponsors the anti-racist town hall
Co-sponsors include BSU, LASU, ASU, BPALC and GSEU, where racism at BU was discussed
In an effort to address recent racist incidents that have taken place on campus, Binghamton University’s sociology department sponsored an anti-racist town hall on April 18.
The event, which brought together over 300 Zoom attendees, took place in light of an incident that occurred during the first discussion course of Sociology 100: Social Change: Intro to Sociology. When a student in the course made racist and sexist comments to the TA, an African-American woman, the course instructor, Joshua Price, professor and head of the sociology department, and Gladys Jiménez-Muñoz, associate professor and undergraduate director in the sociology department, both consulted the TA for help and spent subsequent class periods discussing racism and racial discrimination.
In an addition to B-Line News on February 27, BU President Harvey Stenger and Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Karen Jones condemned this incident and other racial incidents that have occurred. on campus this semester.
“We have just learned that this week our university community has experienced several racist incidents,” the News Addition said. “These offensive incidents do not represent who we are as a campus community. In fact, they are contrary to our core values. We do not tolerate acts of discrimination, hatred or intolerance, whether spoken or written as acts of vandalism. We, members of the administration and members of the community at large, strongly condemn racist and offensive acts of any kind. Personally, and as a campus community, we reject these acts, we will speak out against them as long as they persist and we will continue to support victims of racist acts.
In response to these incidents, the sociology department of the BU in association with the Black Student Union (BSU), the Latin American Student Union (LASU), the Asian Student Union (ASU), the Binghamton Pan Asian Leaders Council (BPALC) ) and the Graduate Student The Union of Employees (GSEU) organized the town hall to provide a platform for an open discussion on racism at BU and in the community at large.
Gladys Jiminez-Munoz, Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of the Undergraduate Studies Program in Sociology, opened the event. She shared words condemning racism and recent deaths at the hands of police, including George Floyd and Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black man who was killed last week by a Minnesota police officer.
“I think George Floyd and Daunte Wright are signals that keep coming to let us know we can’t rest,” Jiminez-Munoz said.
Gabreella Friday, 20, explained how during her freshman year at BU she was arbitrarily arrested five times and added that she observed numerous racist incidents throughout her time at BU, including threats of death against herself and other colored students.
Shanel Boyce, ’14, MSW ’18, had her own experience to share regarding her graduate studies at BU and the challenges she faced due to the color of her skin.
“I have been told that I have no place here since I applied for accommodation as a black teenage mother,” Boyce said. “My experience as a graduate student almost killed me.”
Price was one of the town hall speakers. Discussing the incident that occurred in the discussion section of his course, Price said that “the section’s undergraduates indicated that the TA was handling the situation calmly and gracefully.”
Price explained that the TA feared the threat of an administrative kickback if they reported the incident.
“Institutions are more angry with those who are upset by racism than the racist actors,” Price said.
Nortee Panpinyo, president of ASU, founder of BPALC and junior with a specialization in systems science and industrial engineering, shared his experience not only of external racism towards the Asian community, but also of internal racism.
“Some of my oppressors are other Asians,” said Panpinyo.
Not all of the speakers were directly linked to the University, as two Reverends also commented on racism in the Greater Binghamton community. Reverend Harold Wheat of The Tabernacle United Methodist Church presented a summary of the prevalence of racism in his faith. Wheat explained that racism has been prevalent throughout the Christian Church for “centuries”.
Reverend Ronald Wenzinger, 94, of Centenary-Chenango Street United Methodist Church, shared his perspective both as a UB alumnus and as a pastor who accepts LGBTQ + members into his congregation . Wenzinger’s call to action revolved around unite and unite to face racism.
“How can we get to know each other and build a community?” Said Wenzinger. “This is where our power lies.”
Rabbi Barbara Goldman-Wartell also spoke of the need for decisive and swift action.
“We have to seek justice, we can’t just wait for it to happen, it won’t,” Goldman-Wartell said.
Other speakers included BU alumni seeking to contribute to the fight against racism in the community, as well as students of color from other university communities, including a student speaker from SUNY Purchase. After the first 90 minutes of speaking and sharing thoughts, Claire Choi, a junior double major in Sociology and Korean Studies, shared a poem she dedicated to Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old boy who was shot dead. by an officer from the Chicago Police Department, and the lives lost in the mass shooting in Atlanta on March 16. Her poem was about the racism she faces as an Asian.
After reading the poem, Katrina Huffman, ’96, inquired about “specific tools” that she and other elders might use.
Ryan Yarosh, senior director of media and public relations for BU, said the university strives to “promote a diverse and inclusive campus culture, and this goal continues to be one of our top priorities.
“In an effort to address the emotional health, physical safety, and civil rights concerns of Black, Brown, Asian and other people of color on our campus, we have created a Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, established the Campus Citizen Review Committee to oversee police activities and work closely with the Student Association and other organizations to deliver activities that promote respectful dialogue, ” Yarosh wrote in an email. “This is in addition to the creation of [Harriet Tubman Center for the Study of Freedom and Equity], the inclusive pedagogy workshop for new faculty and others, as well as over 50 campus-wide workshops on cultural skills, active allies and other programs.
In addition to these initiatives, Yarosh also explained how the activities and programs offered by the Multicultural Resource Center (MRC), including debates, promotion of voter rights, discussions on domestic violence, food drives and virtual programs, aim to help students who cannot attend. protests for racial justice.
“The MRC is one of many resources on campus where students from all walks of life can find support and a place to listen and be heard, and as a campus we will continue to encourage inclusion and dialogue. Yarosh wrote.