Social justice from an African heritage perspective was the theme of the latest in the St. F.X. President’s Colloquium Series.
The public gathering, which took place Feb. 28 at Lane Hall, featured panelists Augy Jones, LaMeia Reddick and Tendai Handahu, along with facilitator Michael Fisher, St. F.X. African Descent Student Affairs co-ordinator.
Titled Living the Legacy: Social Justice from the African Heritage Perspective, the event coincided with the close of African Heritage Month celebrations on campus.
The discussion touched on a wide variety of topics, ranging from cultural identity and activism to dealing with racism and discrimination.
Jones talked about how important it is to be able to have “courageous conversations.”
“People have to be willing to be uncomfortable,” the St. F.X. X-Women basketball head coach and long-time educator said, when listening to someone’s perspective.
“My experience is my experience – it is authentic,” Jones said.
He noted he cannot understand the experience of someone, when it comes to accessibility.
“You have to authentically listen, because it is valid. We don’t recognize because we don’t listen to people,” Jones said.
He added the importance of being able to “tell your story” and “listen to other people’s narrative.”
Reddick, founder of KINnected Leadership and a community engagement specialist, offered the need to take care of and empower people, while “showing compassion and support.”
“We have to work together to create a culture of excellence,” she said.
Jones said conversations, such as the one taking place during the colloquium, take place “without mentioning love.”
“Loving people that don’t look like us,” he added.
Handahu, a specialist in Global African History, African Revolutionary Theory and African Centered Education (Afrocentricity), said “love is not the answer,” describing it as “the biggest myth.”
In his remarks, he noted the fight is for “independence not integration.”
“We need to do for ourselves,” Handahu said.
The question period, like the panelists’ remarks, sparked some great discussion and the delivery of different perspectives.
One St. F.X. student talked about the continuing societal reflection of black as evil and its association with “bad things.”
Another, who moved here from Jamaica for university, touched on the challenges he has faced and his treatment.
“We have to do a better job of reaching out – all of us,” Reddick said.
“We have a responsibility to be more welcoming.”
Jones said people have to recognize these conversations are “really, really complex” and have “no quick fix.”
“We have a real sameness, but we also have to appreciate our differences,” he noted.
In his closing remarks, St. F.X. president Kent MacDonald talked about the ongoing success of the colloquium series – the topics that have been addressed.
“We can have these incredible discussions – listen and get more insight,” he said.
MacDonald noted “we still have a way to go,” when it came to some of the issues raised during that night’s gathering.
“St. F.X. is not perfect, but I am proud of the direction that we are going,” he said.