article written by: Adrianna Branin, Damien Walker, and Jack Kleiner of The K.N.D. Squad in the WERQ/Radio Podcasting & Youth Making Media Internship at The Attic Youth Center
On Feb. 10 we were invited as press to attend The Social Justice Panel at Temple University. The Social Justice Panel was created by Nick Palazzalo and the POWER Internship. The panel consisted of TS Hawkins, Kashara White, Ociele Hawkins, Ismael Jimenez, and Dr. Anthony Monterio. The Social Justice Panel handled the social topics such as erasure of black people, standardized testing, and Black Lives Matter.
During this social justice panel, erasure was one of the larger topics discussed by the panel. The first question discussed the whitewashing of African American History, posing, “How do you resist whitewashing as a teacher?” Ismael Jimenez, an African American History teacher at the Kensington Creative and Performing Arts High School, responded with several points about how we don’t learn about the five years between Martin Luther King, Jr's I Have a Dream speech and his assassination. Additionally, he states that we also seem to only learn about slavery being a long time ago, Martin Luther King, Obama, and racism being “over.” We believe that this was an incredibly important point to make because people, especially youth, are not being properly educated about how racism still exists as a system of oppression rather than individual prejudices, even after Martin Luther King, Jr’s I Have a Dream speech.
The Temple University Social Justice panel consisted heavily of the struggles which people of color face in modern society. TS Hawkins, an internationally known performance poet and author, spoke heavily on the intersectionality the concept of examining the interconnection in the oppression of groups of people rather than viewing them separately of being black and LGBTQ. Furthermore, she objected to the term “modern slavery” and how slavery is not “modernized” as it never left, explaining that the system just changed its appearance and language.
An extremely memorable discussion in the panel was Dr. Anthony Monterio’s answer to the question “Why are people of color born suspects?” He explained that the behavior and notions toward brown bodies stems from what blackness symbolizes in society and how the one drop rule, the idea that if
you had an African American family memeber up to four generations back, you were considered black, has allowed certain privileges and separation for the white population. He concluded with the factors of how we’ve come to identify individuals as white, giving people this identity because of the belief that “I’m white because I’m not black.” To clarify, many people may identify as white because they were never involved with the oppression and image of blackness, “that whiteness only exists because the government needed to separate those that would’ve been called slaves from those that would’ve been slave masters.”
In all, the panel was extremely educational and informative, giving the attendants and listeners knowledge that is not often learned in a traditional classroom or by authority figures. Moreover, it included the struggles and documentation from our ancestors and our own experiences today. Marginalization, or social exclusion, was a heavy topic thrust upon the entire panel. What it means to be generalized and silenced as people of color. We, as The K.N.D. Squad, feel as though the Social Justice Panel at Temple University informed us, as well as other people, and youth in the room that topics such as these should be taught on a daily basis, and these topics should be discussed even outside of the traditional classroom and in society in general. Thank you Nick Palazzalo and the POWER Internship for having us as do press coverage at this wonderful event.