Spaces like Real Talk are providing students with opportunities to discuss sensitive issues in an inclusive environment.
Being Black in a predominately white institution can bring one lots of adversity and challenges, whether they be controversial topics in the learning environment or the ongoing strife of people preaching diversity and inclusion but not practicing it, said Kahlea Khabir, a third-year ethnic studies and sociology major at Colorado State University and a facilitator of the Real Talk discussions.
Real Talk is a welcoming space for discussion held every Tuesday at 4 p.m. in the Black/African-American Cultural Center, where students and other community members can voice their opinions and discuss political and social issues in a safe environment.
This Tuesday, in honor of Black History Month, the topic discussed was the Black Lives Matter Movement, and its lack of inclusion to women and other sub-groups within in the Black community.
“As a Black woman on campus, I can say that the B/AACC as a whole is one of the only spaces on campus where I can be my authentic self and engage in critical dialog about the social and political issues of the Black community without feeling ostracized or isolated,” Khabir said.
The Black Lives Matter Movement has been the topic of conversation for a while, said Khabir, and the discussion today took the opportunity to look at how sub-groups within the Black community are missing from the table.
“We hear about Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin and the list goes on, but we barely hear about the woman,” said Donovan Tate, a senior social work student, as an opening statement for discussion. “Are we really encompassing everyone when we say that all Black Lives Matter?”
The students talked about how women are important in this movement even though they may not get their voices heard.
“Many people who have power within these movements don’t have intersectional perspective,” said Courtney Satchell, a second-year English literature and ethnic studies student. “These movements ride off the backs of Black women, but men’s voices are the only ones heard.”
Historically, movements such as the Civil Rights Movement have silenced the voices of women and other sub-communities while using the work that these groups have put forth to their own agenda, Satchell said.
“Our voices are silenced to maintain power imbalances, because those who hold power are the white, straight, abled males, and even when marginalized people fight against that narrative, they still perpetuate those power ideals,” Satchell said.
Some members of the discussion talked about the lack of women voices being heard as a result of a male-dominated society while others expressed a concern in judging the movement.
“Black Lives Matter is a very young movement, and it’s unlike other movements such as the Civil Rights, where you can point to specific leaders,” said Kwon Atlas, a senior economics student. “To say that this movement doesn’t care about women or members of the LGBTQ community is a bold statement because its leaders and structure haven’t even been established yet.”
Atlas said that since it is such a young movement, people should be taking advantage of getting their voices heard.
“You need to speak up if you want your voice to matter and be present,” he said.
All lives in general should matter no matter who dies from police brutality or any brutality, Atlas said.
“It’s unfortunate that only certain lives get attention from the people and media,” he said.
But simply talking about the issues and reiterating their causes is not really an answer to the problems we face, said Isaiah Martin, a second-year political science student.
“We had a great conversation at Real Talk. We talked about what we think about the issue and its causes, but we almost forgot to throw out ideas on how to solve the problem,” Martin said.
Discussions need to be open to all members of a community, and the invitation to talk about these sensitive issues needs to be extended to everyone so that all voices can be heard and included, Martin said.
Kent Washington, a third-year theatre major at CSU, said that people need to educate themselves about certain issues before taking action to solve the issues.
“Hyper-masculinity, privilege, racism, sexism and every other ‘-ism’ is a product of systematic institutions,” Washington said. “Before we help others, we must help ourselves and figure out how to fight against systematic oppression and dismantle structural and stereotypical norms.”
Real Talk has been offering students an opportunity to take a part in discussion about issues such as this, and delve into root causes and potential solutions for these problems. Education and increase of conversation is a key to these solutions, Washington and Martin said.
“If we are going to build a community, everyone’s voice needs to be a part of that community,” Martin said.
Collegian Reporter Israa Eldeiry can be reached at email@example.com or via Twitter @israaeldeiry.