by Bekah Ervin
According to recent reports, the negative actions against people of color on a national scale have begun to bleed onto the Millsaps campus. The Black Student Union has created events to bring light to these issues. According to a recent memo from Dean Brit Katz, posters for BSU-led events were torn down and taunting among students was reported in the past few months. BSU has invited key speakers to attend its panel “Why Not #AllLivesMatter?”, a topic that is circulating social media as a response to the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
BSU Executive Communications Chair Kandice Bailey reached out to The Purple and White to advertise and provide transparency to the student body about the event. Male Recruitment and Involvement Chairperson DeMarcus McGee and Event Publicist Maya Richard also contributed their insights about the Black Lives Matter movement in relation to the campus.
Richard summarized the purpose of the event and its importance to the campus community. She spoke of how important it is to bring awareness to the movement’s true purpose. “We want people to understand what it is and what it isn’t,” she said. McGee added that the event will provide an opportunity for the BSU to answer any questions about the Black Lives Matter movement.
With so much national media coverage, the movement is often distorted. Richard said that “the media only shows the extremists and those that incorrectly represent the Black Lives Matter movement.”
McGee agreed. “Attention is focused on the negativity from those that don’t truly represent the movement. That’s not how it works,” he said.
In regards to Millsaps, both expressed that the black community often feels unwelcome in certain social situations due to tension between the races on campus. As an example, Richard shared her experience at past a Greek social event. “Parties aren’t inviting,” she said. “I’ve been told not to be there.”
However, McGee, a member of Lambda Chi Alpha, mentioned that his fraternity is a “more welcoming environment” and he is thankful to be part of an organization that contains that inviting atmosphere. Bailey hopes to see Greeks attend the BSU’s event so that a bridge may be built for those gaps between social groups at Millsaps.
McGee and Richard gave some encouragement for those that are unsuer about attending the event. McGee said, “We are not angry. We are trying to teach… about black culture and to bring about peace. Bring tough questions!”
Richard shared her own advice: “Don’t fear the Black Lives Matter movement. We want to bring awareness of the issues we are facing so that these problems can be fixed. We ask those that attend to come with an open mind so that you can understand why this is important to us.”
The event will take place on Thursday, February 25, at 7 p.m. in room 215 of the Academic Complex. Panelists include author Kiese Laymon, Chokwe Antar Lumumba (Jackson attorney and son of the late Mayor Lumumba), Dr. Anita DeRouen, Dr. Stephanie Rolph, Kenneth Townsend and Maya Richard.