Photography is very important to Kevin Lopez. He has been taking photos since he was a child. When he joined LaGuardia, he was excited to pursue his passion and find some solidarity. But there was no structured group that catered exclusively to his lifelong love. “It was a good idea to start a Photography Club […]
LAGCC’s little theater came back to life with a mixture of idle conversations and gentle music, students, faculty and the college community alike taking their seats in the aisles. On the stage, a PowerPoint display of the upcoming presentation and the phrase “The Next Generation” written in a bold font. This was all part of the Black Lives Matter Summit, one of the first in person events to be organized in the spring semester.
This panel was part of the week-long 7th annual summit titled “The Black Lives Matter Summit” which took place from April 11th- 14th. The summit hosted three other events that took place virtually all with the focus on different issues faced by people of color in contemporary society. The week-long summit’s theme focused Black Justice and Black Joy and invited all LAGCC students, faculty and staff to participate.
Kayla Williams, a former LAGCC student and a panelist encouraged students to start holding those in power accountable while also making sure that we also uplift triumphs rather than tragedies. “There is a lot to say now about how we react now to injustices. It’s so heavily spoken about that we’ve been desensitized,” Williams says.
What Williams wants students to take away from the panel is that “it’s hard to express an issue where people can actually take it seriously.”
Having these conversations where students can vocalize what they want can make all the difference.
This event was third in the roster of presentations for the BLM Summit and was titled, The Next Generation: A student-led event to discuss education, racism, hate speech and students’ perspectives.
“We should do more. Not just look at the pictures we see on social media but really think about what we can do now,” Kiah Bennet, a Criminal Justice major says. She believes that all students should be more aware of what is going on.
The goal of the panel was to discuss current events that impacted Black student bodies across CUNY campuses during the Covid-19 Pandemic. The panel was moderated by Professor Kyle Hollar-Gregory and current and former LAGCC student panelists which included Kiah Bennett, Nahziel Brown, Kerlene Paulson, Kayla Williams and Pierre Wilson.
The topics of the panels ranged from students combating injustice, the impacts of social media, mental health and educational disparities. When the question of justice for Black Americans was addressed during the pandemic, students weighed in with their perspectives.
Brown, a Criminal Justice major says technology is what keeps us in the know. “Due to technology and social media, we are more aware.”
Wilson, a former LAGCC student, encouraged others to educate themselves about injustice. “If you see something, say something,” he said.
“Encourage others to educate themselves, take courses to get an understanding of what is going on and in an academic setting, do the homework.”
The panel also discussed ways in which students can separate themselves from social media and spend their time focusing on their mental well-being. With an influx of information constantly being at our disposal with the tap of our finger, the student panelists encouraged others to take time away from social media.
Each of the student panelists shared the ways they practice their mental well-being, a subject that they concur is not spoken about enough within the black community. Panelists shared ways they practiced their mental health, such as meditation, joining social groups and communicating with friends and classmates.
As the panel neared its end, the topic of the effects of distance learning for Black students was addressed. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many students across the CUNY system relied on CUNY services to attend online courses. LAGCC offered free internet services and laptops for underprivileged students.
“Life will happen,” Paulson says as the panel closes. “But there is support on campus. Reach out to professors or mentors. Make up your mind about staying focused on your goals.”