QU Holds Panel Discussion on Racism

By Amanda Boyer

Friday, Feb. 17, was a day of fives.

Five panelists, Latonya Brock, Angela Caldwell, Reggie Coleman, Dick Thompson and Mike Smith, answered five questions about racism in America.

Ken Oliver, associate professor of school and community counseling, moderated the event, which was held at the Health and Fitness Center.  The five-question discussion covered issues like the current state of racism in America, the definition of racism, how to make it better, how to deal with race as a part of a person’s multiple identities and how minorities can fight oppression.

Senior psychology major Dominique Lloyd thought the event was vital and appreciated its purpose.

“There are a lot of people out there that don’t know why we feel the way we do, so to have a group of people explain it as well as they did was very important,” she said. “I think this event has been an educational experience, and I hope events like this on campus will continue, because it only further enhances our education on these topics.”

Brock was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, but has lived in Quincy for a year. She is a graduate from Indiana Wesleyan and an ordained minister. Brock is the membership manager for the Quincy Chamber of Commerce.

“You have to deconstruct your own boxes, I think when we meet people we immediately decide what box they should fit into… We label people and put them in these boxes. If we can deconstruct our own boxes, we can start to have relationships and conversations that we couldn’t have otherwise,” Brock said. “If we ever want to be on common ground, we have to do it together. We can never do it apart.”

Caldwell is the director of workforce development for the Great River Economic Development Foundation. She has her MBA from the University of St. Francis and is the co-chair of the Adams County work-readiness team.

“I honestly believe that the more education an individual has, the more they respect individuals, the more they respect themselves, and the more they recognize that, as a people, we can accomplish so much more when we are not fighting with one another and when we are not calling each other names but when we are working together to make a better society,” Caldwell said.

Coleman has worked almost 30 years in radio television. He is a member of the John Wood Community College Board of Trustees, and he serves on the Quincy Human Rights Commission.

“If you think racism is dead in this country, it’s not. It’s alive,” Coleman said.

Thompson is a longtime educator and a sports official. He is a member of the 1954 -1955 men’s basketball team that was inducted into QU’s Hall of Fame today. Thompson is also a member of the Quincy Senior High School Hall of Fame and the International Softball Conference Hall of Fame.

“I truly believe that it is all in how you respond and to a certain situation that you are in,” he said. “You have to treat others the way you want to be treated.”

Smith is a former faculty member at QU. He is active with the Quincy Teen Reach Program and a longtime civic leader in the Quincy community. Smith is also president-elect of QU’s Retired Teachers Association.

“I wake up every morning, and I have to deal with being black. I think about being black all the time,” Smith said. “I am very proud of who I am.”

Lloyd hopes that the university holds more events to raise awareness about racism and its prevalence.

“The open forum was very informative. I just wish we could get more people like this to come and do some different events,” Lloyd said. “The panelists really broke it down for the people in the audience. They made us feel the way they felt.”

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