300 black crosses were put up in the Rockwell Quad between Ketchum and Bacon Hall as the #BlackCrossProject began this past Sunday. These crosses were put up to support #BlackLivesMatter movement and to specifically represent the many African Americans who lost their lives while in police custody from 2012-2015.
#BlackLivesMatter is a movement that has taken America by storm and has many people, both black and white, talking about the racial problems that go on today. These crosses are just the first step of a long project that will not be concluded until Friday, Nov. 13.
“This is a time for reflection, a real conversation starter for this campus that really started with the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, and Tamir Rice,” Alexander Means, a professor in the Department of Social and Psychological Foundations in Education, said. “This is a real opportunity to have a broader discussion about racial rights in America.”
Means collaborated with Professor Beth Hinderliter and Dr. William White to create the Black Cross Project. This public art project was thought of over the summer and was completed with the help of some students in classes like FAR 104 Themes and Issues in Contemporary Art, as well as SPF 366 Cultural Proficiency and Public Achievement.
Hinderliter, who teaches Fine Arts 104 and African American Studies, and Dr. White, who is the director of faculty development on campus, decided that raising awareness to these events are important to a diverse campus like SUNY Buffalo State.
The Black Cross’ opening event was held on Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 1:40 p.m. in the Rockwell Quad, where they used that time to give students and members of the community a place to reflect on the recent “Blue on Black violence” and give thanks to the people who are bringing light to such tragic events.
“This is our opening event because this gives us a chance to open up those lines of communication and really have a time to reflect on the meaning of the crosses,” White said. “What it means to live in a society where significant number of minorities are marginalized and really aren’t given an opportunity.”
A panel discussion on racial inequality and social injustice will also be held on Thursday, Nov. 12 starting at 12:15 p.m. during Bengal Pause in Bulger East. This panel will have four scholars who will each present a point or opinion about race violence, social injustice and the state of racial relations in this country.
Means will be speaking on the panel along with Instructor of History of African and African American Studies, Dr. Steve Peraza, Assistant Dean of University College and Professor in Sociology, Dr. Amitra Wall, and Assistant Professor in the School of Education at Northern Illinois University, Dr. Joe Flynn.
The goal of this panel is to shed light on some ideas about the cause of these racial problems, as well as presenting potential solutions to this ongoing race war. Members of the audience are welcome to participate as questions will be allowed for about five minutes after each speaker presents.
“This summer we all read a lot of ‘A Letter to My Son’ by Ta-Nehisi Coates and it really sparked something for us and the University is looking to bring him here in February… This conversation must continue with more events and has to roll over into the spring,” Hinderliter said.
This panel is being used not for debate, but more as a time for reflection on what has been going on around the United States, revealing what steps are needed to progress forward and remove the current state of racial inequalities that hinder minorities in the country.
“These incidents to us, speak to a broader range of issues of racial injustice in the United States, so we wanted to do a public project to raise awareness to use this as an entry point to talk about the issues of racial injustice and the continuing problems of racism and social and economic inequality,” Means said.
The Culture and Diversity Center on campus will be in attendance of the panel, as well as representatives from the local NAACP Chapter.
The African American Student Organization, Caribbean American Student Organization and the Pan African Student Organization, who were all recently re-recognized by the United Students Government Senate, did not show up to the event this past Sunday and were unavailable for comment.
Those future events can be used by these organizations to spread the word and give students a way to combat the tough times in America.
“This is more than just black versus white, these are broader societal issues that will only get better with a collective effort… If we all come together for the same cause then we can start to heal,” White said.
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