Energy began to surge in the discussion hall at University of California Irvine Monday, Nov. 9 as guest speaker Melissa Harris-Perry challenged her audience to put in perspective the Black Lives matter movement and the meaning of race.
Perry was introduced by UCI’s Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Thomas A. Parham who commemorated her for her television series, her writing and her academic accomplishments.
Perry wasted no time the second she walked up to the microphone stating, “I am going to talk almost exclusively tonight about bodies that are rendered in 21st century America as black and as black male,” Perry said.
She then questioned the audience with, “What is blackness”. She stated that there is an identity confusion when it comes to blackness.
“Sometimes blackness can be transgender identity or it can be a sikh man with a turban living in a post 9/11 New York constantly being identified as a muslim. There can be a kind of terror and violence that over comes your body do to this confusion.”
The main point Harris-Perry wanted to get across and constantly reminded the audience throughout her entire discussion was that race is not real.
She went on to discuss a series of events that have happened within America in the last ten years from Hurricane Katrina to the election of President Obama to the death of Trayvon Martin.
She also noted the dramatic increase of white trust with the cops after the encounter of Michael Brown in August 2014.
Harris-Perry wanted to make it very clear though that nobody was without problems.
How does it feel to be a problem? Now I don’t want you to miss this because I want to be very clear. […] All people have problems. All people. No amount of privilege is without problems. Not straight privilege, not white privilege. Not male privilege. Not wealth privilege. None of those things, will keep you from having a life that excludes problems. All humans, as the nature of human beings, have problems. There is no privilege that will not have problems.”
Harris-Perry reminded Green and the audience that in order to be heard, you must have voices, not just a single voice.
Fullerton College student, Michelle Reynoso, was glad she attended the discussion because she felt it really put the movement in perspective for her. She believes Harris-Perry was very inspiring and a powerful speaker.
“I was skeptical of the Black Lives Matter and I even poked fun at it”, Reynoso said. “But it really showed me that it is a movement that needs to be acknowledged. I thought it was very empowering for young adults to hear the blunt truth about this matter. Not a lot of people speak on it.”
Harris-Perry’s discussion was hosted by UCI’s award-winning New Narratives program and the Women’s Empowerment program.
The next discussion hosted by New Narratives will be held in January 2016.
For information regarding this discussion, visit https://studentaffairs.uci.edu/newnarratives/events/clintsmith.php