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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Forum spurs racism dialogue

    Delemas Warren, first vice president of the Tucson branch of the NAACP, weighs in on issues of race and injustice at a Jena 6 forum yesterday at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Student Center.
    Delemas Warren, first vice president of the Tucson branch of the NAACP, weighs in on issues of race and injustice at a Jena 6 forum yesterday at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Student Center.

    More than 50 students and faculty gathered yesterday to discuss the racial and judicial issues involved in the Jena 6 controversy at an event called “”Jena 6: Crimes in the World Today.””

    The Social Justice Leadership Center and African-American Student Affairs hosted the forum, held at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Student Center to encourage dialogue in the community about the recent events occurring in Jena, La.

    The event was meant to foster understanding of what the truth is in the case, said Bruce Smith, director of African-American Student Affairs.

    “”I might not know what that is,”” he said.

    Jennifer Hoefle, UA senior coordinator of social justice programs, said a lot of media coverage has been given to the case recently but that it has not been discussed on the UA campus.

    “”A lot of students are emotional about this issue, and we want to direct that energy here,”” Smith said.

    The Jena 6 are six black students charged in the beating of a white student after nooses were hung from an oak tree at Jena High School in December. The three white students who hung the nooses were suspended from school but did not face criminal charges.

    Most of the talk at the forum focused on what can be done to fight racism and get people involved toward that end.

    Smith said the first step to enacting any change is groups like the ones at the forum coming together.

    “”Power is in the action,”” said Amber Williams, an interdisciplinary studies senior. “”Change will only happen if you demand it.””

    Williams said something needed to be done a long time ago to address the racial issues in society today.

    “”This is a manifestation of what has been pushed under the rug,”” she said.

    Other audience members said racism needs to be addressed by the individual first.

    “”We need to first look inside of ourselves and see where we stand on issues before we can go out and try to change others,”” said Pima Residence Hall director Annice Fisher. “”Then go talk to your friends who make racist remarks and plant the seed.

    “”All you can do is plant the seed,”” she said. “”You cannot fixate on those who don’t want to listen.””

    James Lamp, a member of Arizonans for Obama, an organization supporting black U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama, said the way to fight racism is through reason, logic and dialogue.

    Other students said the forum is just the first of a series of events that need to occur to keep the racism discussion going.

    “”We need to invite each other to events and not just talks like this,”” said Jake Levine, a creative writing senior. “”We need to bridge the gap in academics and on campus.””

    Levine said he would like to see a space on campus where everyone could come together and build cultural connections.

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