BATON ROUGE, LA- LSU recently hosted a Presidential Symposium called “Moment or Movement: A National Dialogue on Identity, Empowerment and Justice for All.”
The forum focused on the tragedies that happened this past summer and the major tensions present in the Baton Rouge area. The interactive panel event “Now what? Movement Beyond the Moment” focused largely on the events that occurred this summer due to the tensions between the African- American and Caucasian communities.
Dr. Lori Martin said “Baton Rouge was a divided city long before July this year.” The events of this past summer did not occur in Baton Rouge because of a recent split, but because of the tensions built over many years. Dr. Michelle Massé later said “nothing that happened this summer is anything new.”
Dr. Rowland Mitchell said, “whites made the environments that Blacks are living in.” The shootings and violence done by African Americas against Caucasians was not because African Americans are inherently “bad” humans, but because whites have made them feel uncomfortable in their own community.
Mitchell pointed out how African American males, even young children, are prejudged by society. He mentioned how a study was done asking teachers to point out which pre- school students he or she thought would cause the most trouble. The black children were repetitively chosen over the white children. When one is being targeted at such a young age; he or she will be, and feel like a target for the rest of his or her life creating tensions.
One cannot succeed when he or she is set up for failure. Dr. Wesley Church said “We are the cause of a lot of things that do happen in the black community.” The pre judgment of African Americans is not helping out community move forward as a whole, but is creating senseless acts of violence.
Another pointed mention by Mitchell was how he constantly hears things like “Black men are scary, they cannot be successful at LSU.” Black men are constantly told things such as you cannot be successful so they begin to believe it themselves. LSU is diligently working towards equality in statistics of whites and blacks. The university produces African American Men with PHDs at six times the national average. Mitchell said these men are no different than any one else but LSU is; “They had resources, support, and we knew that they could be successful.” If many Universities started working towards this same goal; tensions between the communities could potentially decrease creating a safer environment everywhere.
This symposium was not focused on the wrong doing of the African Americans, but the wrong doing of a community as a whole. Dr. Michelle Massé ended the panel with, “It’s our responsibility to move forward, not wait for someone to do it for us; so lets do that not just today; but everyday.”