“Do all lives matter?”

On July 29, a town hall was held in N201 to discuss the Black Lives Matter movement. Two professors, Derrick Brooms from the University of Louisville and Darryl Brice from Highline Community College presented a PowerPoint titled “Do all lives matter?”

Brooms opened by saying, “What I want to kind of share with you and think through today are ways in which we can continue to build our awareness and build our skills so that we continue to try to have these dialogs.”

The goal of the presentation was to put the recent events in Charleston, S.C. in a historical context. “Set the context, think about this more broadly, so even though we hear talk about what happened in Charleston, we need to see it situated within kind of the larger experiences and the larger stories of kind of what’s been transpiring,” said Brooms.

The presentation was not one sided, but a conversation with audience members speaking up to share their own thoughts and personal experiences about what was discussed. Attendees would discuss their points with each other, with the two facilitators listening and offering perspectives of their own.

The presentation focused around the concept of a counter-narrative. “We really want to try to create space intentionally around making sure that we have opportunities to hear multiple truths, because if we only answer to the media then we will get this kind of singular narrative.”

The discussion touched on several subjects, from discussion about colonialism, language and psychological violence, media portrayal of black men and the hoodie as a tool of oppression, to talking about affirmative action. Brooms brought up the controversy regarding the Confederate Battle Flag in the S.C. capitol, saying “People getting killed in the street is not about a flag in a state capitol.” In regards to removing the flag, Brooms said, “That’s symbolic, we needed it because people can feel better about it, but that doesn’t change the interaction with a police officer and a citizen on a routine stop.”

The differences in the ways that police interact with different races were highlighted. To illustrate the point, two YouTube clips were shown, one of a traffic stop where a Black man reaches into his car and gets shot, one a video taken by a citizen open-carrying a gun who is treated politely. Dylann Roof was also offered as an example, with police taking him to Burger King on the way to the station.

After an hour of presentation and discussion, the presentation was halted to open the floor to anybody who wished to speak, with attendees asking questions and making points to the presenters and each other.

The Diversity Caucus, through this town hall discussion, hopes to educate students and attendees about the current racial disparities that exist in the country.