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Soledad O’Brien discusses diversity

19 February 2014 By Aaron Isrin, Staff Writer No Comments
Award-winning journalist and CEO of Starfish Media Group comes to campus
Elizabeth Bonica/ The Towerlight

Elizabeth Bonica/ The Towerlight

Soledad O’Brien visited Towson University to discuss the issues of race, wealth, equality and justice for blacks in America.

The event, held in the SECU Arena, was part of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Celebration – Black in America Tour 2014 and featured award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien.  During the event, O’Brien discussed her documentary series, “Black in America,” and how it portrays the lives of blacks in modern America.

“Our goal in ‘Black in America’ was to start the conversation about what it means to be black in this country at a time when the most powerful man in the country is black and some of the most disenfranchised people in America are black,” she said.

She used clips from the documentary during the event to support her arguments.

O’Brien started the evening by discussing the recent trial verdict of Michael Dunn, the man found not guilty of the shooting of Jordan Davis, an unarmed 17-year-old black teen in Florida.

“We’ve been discussing, what seems to be, the normalizing of the shooting of young black men,” she said.

Elizabeth Bonica/ The Towerlight

Elizabeth Bonica/ The Towerlight

O’Brien spoke about her background as a child of a black-Cuban mother and white-Australian father in the ‘60s.  She said that while many of the racist images from the past are gone, many of the judgments and stereotypes against blacks still exist today.

“Today it’s much more subtle,” she said.  “Today people are told you’re not a good fit for this job or your hair is not what we’re comfortable with.”

O’Brien continued by criticizing the way the media often portrays black Americans and white Americans differently, often unfavorably towards black Americans.  She referred to the coverage of Trayvon Martin and how some journalists blamed the shooting on the hoodie Martin was wearing during the incident.

O’Brien concluded the evening with a panel discussion.  The panel featured Assistant Professor of Political Science John Bullock, Towson junior Erica Middleton and Tara Bynum, an assistant professor of English at Towson.  The panel discussed issues concerning progress for blacks and what the goals are for improving equality in America. The floor was then opened to questions from the audience members.

Junior Tej Naik said the event applied to the issues he sees in modern America.

“I think she addressed a lot of the problems in our nation,” he said.  “You can definitely understand and relate to what she’s saying.”

The event was made available on Google+ Live.


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