Students were given the opportunity to express themselves among their peers at Fullerton’s 10th Annual Black Student Forum & Social.
This event allowed students to listen to one another about their own personal testimonies throughout life and gain knowledge regarding other ethnicities.
The panel was composed of four speakers including, Arnetta Smith a FC Ethnic Studies Faculty, and Dr. Arnett Edwards a FC Counselor. Students and UMOJA members, Chinecerem Anijielo and Josue Pineda were encouraged to attend.
“I started the Black Student Forum & Social 10 years ago because I wanted to find a way to get people listen to each other about their own experiences,” said Vincent White, transfer center coordinator.
The speakers started off the event talking with attendees about what the term ‘safe space’ means. The audience had a chance to shout out the first answers that came to mind like welcoming, inviting, home and respect. They then discussed what it means to be black.
The audience was then asked to think about a few concepts like what does black look, sound or feel like and who taught them these characteristics. The topics didn’t just apply to black students but to anyone struggling with racial identity.
The first question asked to the panel was ‘to define blackness and what it meant to you’. The second question the panel took on was ‘has your blackness ever been questioned and if so what characteristics were used to protect it?’.
Arnetta Smith talked about growing up in Saint Louis, Missouri as a gay African American. “I was treated differently and it’s important it is to be around friends that don’t judge you regardless of skin color” said Smith.
Following Smith, Dr. Edwards talked about how she was born in the 80’s and struggled with racial identity. As time went on there were more African American role models making racial identities more acceptable to society.
Dr. Edwards later explained how she metaphorically has multiple personalities because of how she is seen in so many different ways. She discussed how her friends and family see her a different way then co-workers or just people she sees on a day to day basis.
Josue Pineda talked about his experience about being an African Latino. “Sometimes I used to think I’m too African to be Latino and too Latino to be African” said Pineda.
Lastly, Chinecerem Anijielo shared how she’s a first generation Nigerian immigrant and how sometimes people would assume she’s African American because of her name. She then explained that there is a difference and that her name is important to her.
“Its important in certain moments to surround yourself with people you can relate to” said Anijielo.
Towards the end of the event students had the opportunity to have a group discussion in small groups with faculty members.
“I enjoy how Fullerton College has a lot of diversity, like how our football team has players from different states. The Black Student Forum & Social really encourages students to find whats unique about their own blackness” said Patricia James a psychology major and UMOJA member.