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‘Voices Matter’: Race Matters

Bryson Walker (left), Je'nyce Johnson (center) and Damion Jackson (right) listened to student asking whether it was offensive to be addressed as black or if they preferred African-American.

Bryson Walker (left), Je'nyce Johnson (center) and Damion Jackson (right) listened to student asking whether it was offensive to be addressed as black or if they preferred African-American.

Michelle De Leon

Bryson Walker (left), Je'nyce Johnson (center) and Damion Jackson (right) listened to student asking whether it was offensive to be addressed as black or if they preferred African-American.

Michelle De Leon

Michelle De Leon

Bryson Walker (left), Je'nyce Johnson (center) and Damion Jackson (right) listened to student asking whether it was offensive to be addressed as black or if they preferred African-American.

‘Voices Matter’: Race Matters

Speakers discussed many different topics surrounding race and ethnicity as part of this year’s “Voices Matter” Multicultural Day at Moorpark College.

Professor Ranford Hopkins led the dialogue at the “Race Matters” event. The main idea behind this event was meant for students to participate in a healthy discussion about racial matters.

“The concept of race is a social construct,” Hopkins said. “We just created it and we adhered to it but it really has no founding.”

As part of the discussion, Professor Hopkins had students fill out a survey about each student’s opinion on racial issues, which led into a discussion where students walked around the room to the answer that corresponded to their opinions.

Professor Hopkins made sure it would be a safe discussion by going over some rules for difficult conversations:

1. Listen respectfully, without interrupting.

2. Respect one another’s views.

3. Challenge ideas, not individuals.

4. Commit to learning, not debating.

5. Avoid blame and speculation.

6. Avoid inflammatory language.

The students were encouraged to share their opinions and explain why they chose to answer a certain way for each question.

“Everyone here is willing to open up and willing to understand other people’s perspectives,” student Ryan Spaulding said. “Although race [talks] can be hostile, there certainly is room for discussion.”

The Black Student Union (BSU) organized a student panel that focused on how their race and ethnicity impacts their daily lives. BSU’s President Bryson Walker and Vice President Tim Whitehead led the discussion.

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During a student panel black students shared their thought on the use of the n-word on black and non black people. Photo by: Michelle De Leon

Walker began the discussion with controversial topics that included the use of the n-word and Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the anthem and cultural appropriation cultural. However, the one thing he hoped the students learned from the discussion was to consider different perspectives.

“See how it is for other people and to not say what they would say behind closed doors,” Walker said. “Just think about what other people have to go through and be grateful for what they have.”

Although they are named the Black Student Union, they made sure to let the students in attendance know that anyone is able to join the student group.

“Our whole group is about diversity,” Whitehead said. “We want to get everyone together. We want everyone to feel comfortable and free.”

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Members in Moorpark College’s Nursing program inquired if members of the Black Student Union considered the race of their doctors. They also asked how stress induced by racism affect their health and that of their family. Photo by: Michelle De Leon

One of the students who engaged in the healthy discussion with the BSU panel was 19-year-old accounting student Traevon Marston.

“The biggest thing I took from it was how open people are to diversity of thought,” Marston said. “It goes back to what MLK said that someone shouldn’t be defined by the color of their skin but the content of their character.”

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