- Willie Hope
The Black Student Union hosted a “Media and Race” event on Thursday night in Kline. Dr. Malaika Turner, currently a professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, as well as an author and motivational speaker, spoke about the effect media has on race.
When asked why she brought in Turner to speak, BSU president Rachel Taylor joked, “because my advisor told me to.” But Taylor noted Turner’s credentials and powerful message proved why she was BSU’s choice for the speech.
“Media not only provides information but incites reaction, provokes something within us,” Turner said. “Media creates this level of fear and anxiety, that sometimes provokes us to do, plan, create.”
Turner included her own story in the presentation, discussing when she “first realized she was black” when she was the only black cheerleader at a predominately white high school, as well as the differences in how she dressed and how she was treated.
“I had to make a decision of where I was going to go with this: am I going to feel sorry for myself, or am I going to do something about it?” Turner said.
The event then went into the discussion portion, in which Turner had the audience break into groups and talk about their own “experience, expectation and expiration.” The audience talked about when they first realized they were different, or if they weren’t a person of color when they first saw these differences.
Junior computer and information science major Kelly Hopkins talked about her experience as the only non-white person on a tennis team. “I have to be careful and watch how I act. I don’t want to be the ‘angry black woman,’” Hopkins said.
Sophomore communication major Arkel Brown also shared his story: “I have dreadlocks and a full beard, so it’s different. When I’m in Annapolis [MD], I see people stare at me sometimes, and I’ll turn around and talk to them, saying ‘yes sir, no ma’am’ just to show I’m not like that,” Brown said.
Those who shared their experiences highlighted Turner’s point that media causes bias. “We have to give people a chance, change our perspective on people and look at them different,” Turner noted.
At the end of the event, Turner gave Taylor and the BSU a mission. Using the hashtag #reconcileatMessiah, Turner encouraged Taylor and those present to “do something on this campus that will involve media.” Regarding reconciliation, Turner explained that we “can’t wait for someone else to apologize. We have to make moves to show folks the love that is really inside of us.”
Taylor and the Black Student Union hope to use this hashtag as well as Taylor’s suggestions to create change on a campus that is still predominantly white and has its share of issues for non-white students. According to Taylor, “Turner’s message is one that I believe can help change things at Messiah.”