By Joseph Salamon, News Editor
A few dozen University of Missouri-St. Louis students and faculty members gathered in the Millennium Student Center Century Room C on April 4 for an open discussion about race. The discussion was part of the What’s Current Wednesday (WCW) program, an event hosted by The Current Student Newspaper, the New York Times, and the UMSL Community Outreach and Engagement, is aimed to inform students on important social and political issues while encouraging change.
The discussion was led by Anita Manion, associate teaching professor in political science, Kathleen Nigro, assistant teaching professor in English and gender studies, Harry Harris, coordinator of academics for athletics, and Lynn Staley, assistant teaching professor in English.
The focus of the discussion was everyone’s individual implicit bias and why we tend to attach arbitrary characteristics to people of certain races or positions without even knowing them. The conversation was supplemented by various infographics regarding both race and gender, as well as a New York Times feature, “Extensive Data Shows Punishing Reach of Racism for Black Boys.”
Written by Emily Badger, Claire Cain Miller, Adam Pearce, and Kevin Quealy, the article brings to attention the fact that black boys growing up in a financially stable household have less of a chance of maintaining that financial stability in adulthood compared to white boys of a similar upbringing.
Conversation around the article caused students in attendance to share personal stories about how their families’ upbringing affected their financial stability. This brought forth comparisons of black American families to white European immigrant families. The discussion featured an even representation of black and white students and also male and female students.
The points made by students engaging in civil discourse moved Professor Staley to commend the group, playfully urging everyone in attendance to run for positions of public office.
WCW is a monthly event held on campus to encourage thoughtful discussion on various topics that can be analyzed on both the macro and micro level. This event was the last WCW for this semester. The program will pick up again in the fall.