From the unjust deaths of Oscar Grant III in 2009 to Trayvon Martin in 2012, the reality of racial profiling still lives on today. To open up the conversation about racial profiling, the Black Student Union will be hosting Rev. Wanda Johnson, Grant’s mother, at the 5th Annual Black Cultural Dinner tonight, Feb. 20, in McLaren Hall from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
“When we were thinking about the theme for this year, we were thinking about everything that has been going on like Trayvon Martin,” Lindsay McKenzie, junior and director of finance for BSU, said. “A lot of people are being killed because they look suspicious.” Since the Oscar Grant case was in Oakland, it was appropriate to have his mother be the keynote speaker for the dinner. After the death of her son, Rev. Johnson became a political activist and continues to speak regularly at events.
The evening will start with a discussion panel, where Rev. Johnson will give a talk on the the challenges of people of color in the Bay Area, “Stop and Frisk” law, and the film “Fruitvale Station,” which was screened earlier this week on campus by the African American studies committee.
A dinner will follow at 8 p.m.
The event is free and open to the community, however dinner is by RSVP only. There will also be a DJ, dancing, and poetry performed by USF’s WORD Poetry Club.
BSU has a received a lot of support from Student Life and Engagement and contributions by seven departments for the dinner, including the college of arts and sciences, the African American studies and critical diversity studies departments, and the school of management.
This past Tuesday, the African American studies committee hosted a screening of “Fruitvale Station” and a discussion of the film with faculty. From these events, McKenzie hopes it will spark dialogue and make people aware of the problems that still exist within issues on race.
BSU has biweekly meetings on Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. in the Hayes-Healy lounge. All community members are welcomed.