Lecia Brooks talks fighting white supremacy, rising hate in America

Carson Lipe

 

Woman speaks.
Lecia Brooks speaks about the rise of hate fueled incidents across the country. Brooks leads the outreach programs for the Southern Poverty Law Center, whose focus is to fight hate and bigotry as well as seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society.

Hate crimes in the United States are on the rise.

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Thursday night, Lecia Brooks, the outreach director with the Southern Poverty Law Center, echoed this sentiment in the Lory Student Center, and spoke about ways that Colorado State University students can help mitigate racial bias.

During her presentation, Brooks spoke on the origins and progression of racially motivated bias, especially within the last decade.

“Right after the presidential campaign, when Trump was declared the winner, we saw an immediate uptick in the number of hate and bias incidents that happened across the country,” Brooks said. “People who hold biased and bigoted thoughts now are emboldened to say whatever it is they want to say.”

Brooks also talked about the neo-Nazi riots in Charlottesville, bystander intervention in racially motivated incidents and alt-right leadership.

Students of all races came to the event to support the speaker.

“Since it’s Black History Month, I just think it’s important to expand my own knowledge and with me not being a person of color, I recognize the privilege that has,” said Kim Pannell, a freshman majoring in business.  

Others came to show support to marginalized students.

“I think an important part of standing in solidarity with marginalized people is understanding their culture and understanding the experiences they have,” said Dylan Sanger, a freshman majoring in anthropology.

In the afternoon preceding her event, Brooks had a chance to speak with members of the Ram community.

“I had the honor of having lunch with some students from the Black/ African American Cultural Center,” Brooks said. “We had a great conversation.”

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Brooks also had the chance to speak with a dozen administrators during her visit. 

“We had a very engaged discussion on how to address these issues (on equality) and what you could do at Colorado State University to push back against hate on campus,” Brooks said.

According to Brooks, the faculty members were very receptive to conversation on equality.

“It was just so interesting that they were all actively engaged and they cared about building the community.” Brooks said. “It was 12 administrators sitting around a table talking about the ways to address white supremacy. You just don’t see that. They were all in and I think that’s great.”

Brooks was pleased that CSU students and faculty are conducting conversations about race and equality, and said CSU is unique among other colleges in this respect.

“These conversations are not happening on a lot of college campuses, or at all on college campuses across the country, so you need to know that it’s pretty special,” Brooks said.

Brooks also spoke on the importance of involving people of all races and beliefs in the fight for equality.

“What we’re seeing in terms of resurgence in student activism is very reminiscent of the civil rights movement,” Brooks said. “The civil rights movement, especially towards the end, was successful. One of the reasons it was successful was because it became very multi-racial, inter-religious and inter-biased.”

Brooks said that the modern day fight for equality is in the hands of students.

“It’s on us, and it’s on you in particular as students,” Brooks said. “Students are always the ones that push and create cultural change. If you don’t feel it, it won’t happen. It will go to the next generation.”

Collegian reporter Carson Lipe can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @carsonlipe.