North Texas Daily

Being Black in Modern America event celebrates, explores challenges of black experience

Being Black in Modern America event celebrates, explores challenges of black experience

Being Black in Modern America event celebrates, explores challenges of black experience
February 20
13:46 2019

About 40 people attended Tuesday evening’s Being Black in Modern America program, which featured an art gallery, a keynote speaker and a panel discussion. Each event explored the challenges and responsibilities of being black in today’s America.

The program was held in honor of Black History Month.

“It’s awesome to address the issues that we have because I feel like a lot of times we see the issues but we don’t really address them or talk about them,” said sophomore social work major Peyton Floyd.

The art gallery displayed works by students and alumni that have taken professor Beverley Davenport’s African-American Anthropology course. For a final assignment, students had the option to create a piece of art on the topic of black sexual politics. Davenport said the assignment was inspired by Patricia Hill Collins’ book on the subject, which challenges existing gender ideologies.

Davenport began collecting the art in 2010 and said she recently saw how it could benefit this event.

“I think what it means to be black is kind of a moving target, and I think that these pieces of art represent how young people have come to think about their own, or in an empathetic way, a black person’s imagination of what it’s like to be black,” Davenport said.

French and integrative studies senior Daisy Tyler had her artwork from the fall semester submitted for the project, but was unaware the work would be featured until the day of the event. Her artwork featured a young child wrapped up in blue strips, whose braids were being chopped off by other blue strips in front of a pink background.

Panelists smile for a photo before the panel portion of UPC’s Being Black in Modern America event begins. Panelists included presidents of student black organizations such as the Black Student Union and UNT’s chapter of the NAACP. Image by: Jordan Collard

“I was doing piece about the ideas of black femininity and masculinity and how that’s portrayed,” Tyler said. “And how you may have to sacrifice some aspects in order to be strong.”

Antwuan Malone, the executive director and pastor of Elevate Young Adult Ministry, a community initiative in the Dallas area that empowers young adults through churches, served as the keynote speaker.

Malone spoke about the challenges, privileges and responsibilities of being black in modern America.

“The story of the African-American is not over,” Malone said to the audience. “It’s 2019, and even though much has been written about what it means to be black maybe in the [1950s] and ’60s and even in the ’80s and ’90s, the question we have today is, what will be said about the African-American of this generation?”

Malone moderated the panel discussion that came last in the program. The panel was made up of representatives from the Progressive Black Student Organization, UNT’s NAACP chapter, the Black Student Union and UNT’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The panelists included Kenya Ravin, president of the Progressive Black Student Organization, and Stephon Bradberry, president of UNT’s Black Student Union.

Panelists were asked a variety of questions, from how black people are represented in the media to modern oppression and the “New Jim Crow.”

“Events like this are very important because it gives students who don’t directly identify with issues that minority students struggle with, kind of a look on the other side,” Ravin said. “We are able to express things that we experience and we go through … with people that don’t have the chance to experience it.”

The program was the goal of Robert Tristan, the eduction coordinator of UNT, who coordinated the event in collaboration with Bradberry.

“I’m hoping that students leave a little more enlightened about the realities that black students are still facing everyday,” Tristan said.

Tuesday’s program was part of UPC’s series, “Being ___ in Modern America,” following last semester’s program, “Being Latinx in Modern America.”

Featured Image: Keynote speaker Antwuan Malone, a preacher from McKinney, Texas, speaks about the difference between “white privilege” and “black privilege” at the Being Black in Modern America event hosted by the University Program Council in the Union. Image by: Will Baldwin. 

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Jasmine Robinson

Jasmine Robinson

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