UA community discusses black community

Amanda Bayhi

A number of students and faculty members brought forth ideas about ways to strengthen the black community at “Our Voice, Our Leadership, Our Mission: Reclaiming the Black Community.”

The African-American Graduate Student Association hosted the program, which took place in the Carmichael Hall rotunda Tuesday night.

Samory Pruitt, vice president for community affairs, said the panel was originally going to consist of people his own age, but he suggested that diversity become the end result.

Ebony Johnson, instructor at UA and Child and Family Advocate at the Child and Advocacy Center, said racism still exists, regardless of the people who try to ignore it.

“It’s present on a daily basis,” Johnson said.

Brittney Cooper, assistant professor of women’s studies, said systematic racism is a major problem that white students don’t recognize.

“Systematic racism privileges them while it disadvantages black people,” Cooper said.

Johnson said black families don’t stay together as often now as they did in generations past, a problem which could result from a number of different things.

“There’s a problem with our demographic – we’re not staying married,” Johnson said.

Kimberly Jenkins-Richardson, juvenile court liaison with Tuscaloosa, Pickens and Bibb counties, said part of the problem for the current generation is a missing foundation for families.

“It’s hard to build a foundation when grandma is 35 and great grandma is 45,” Jenkins-Richardson said.

George Daniels, assistant professor in the journalism department, said it is a national effort to strengthen black families. Daniels said that when a family contains to parents, there is a different outcome for both the child and the community.

Cooper said that not every family will have two parents. She said that often results in society blaming women for problems in the black community.

Jenkins-Richardson said that when a family is interracial, the parents need to teach their children to learn about the black side of the family.

Cooper said black communities would probably see more manageable solutions and more variety if they would reach out to other communities. Cooper said that is the reason she does not like to refer to the black community as one community.

“I like the term ‘black communities,’” Cooper said.

Jarrett N. Tyus, a lawyer, said one reason there are so many black men in prison is because they often commit crimes to prove their manhood.

“It’s literally a jungle out there,” Tyus said.

Jenkins-Richardson said children often commit petty crimes to try to help provide for the family or to get what they need using whatever means necessary.

“Even for the kids it’s dog-eat-dog,” Jenkins-Richardson said.

Cooper said that authority figures have to get on the children’s level so they will listen.

“Especially with that 12 to 17 age, it’s really hard to bridge that gap,” Cooper said.

Cooper said young black people need someone in the media to look up to, since there are relatively no shows or movies presenting good examples of how a black person should act.

“I really feel like we’re in a moment of regression when we should be in a moment of progression,” Cooper said.

Lamar Kirkman, a graduate student in the MPA program, said he hasn’t seen many forums like this one on campus.

“I thought really it was a great opportunity to discuss different issues,” Kirkman said.

Erica Jordan, a graduate student in psychology, said she would have liked to hear more topics.

“I just wish it would have been longer,” Jordan said.