February is known around United States as Black History Month. Pacific University’s Black Student Union (BSU) is using the attention brought by Black History Month as a platform to look at the complexity of systems of discrimination in our world and even question the motives some people have for celebrating Black History Month.
BSU is screening the film “More than a Month” and hosting a discussion Feb. 23 at 6:30 p.m. in the Multi-Purpose Room (MPR) in the lower level of the University Center (UC).
According to BSU Secretary Kia Addison, “More than a Month” examines the meaning of Black History Month, its history and controversies, “whether it’s just a time for business to sell things, whether it’s just a time for people to say ‘oh let’s celebrate Martin Luther King’ and then never hear about him again.”
Immediately following the film, will be a discussion lead by several African Americans from the community. These guest speakers, most of whom are faculty from other universities in the area, were chosen “because of their experience with people our age, experience talking in front of groups and explaining things clearly and because they are all African Americans, meaning they have lived through the experiences of microaggressions and discrimination, so they know what they are talking about.” Addison said.
One speaker is a former member of the Black Panther Party in Portland, who should “have some really interesting viewpoints for us.”
Addison has planned for the discussion after the film to focus on “microaggressions, discrimination in its blatant form and every form possible to get people to understand that racism in the world has not ended yet.”
Addison hopes people will walk away from the movie and discussion having learned how much work against racism is yet to be done.
“Studying Black History isn’t a black problem. Black history is American history and it’s world history,” she said.
Addison also spoke to the complexity of discrimination. She hopes that the films and guest speakers can help sift through this complexity to make these problems clear and help students realize that their actions can have an impact.
“We all have to pitch in and do our part to dismantle not only racism, but sexism and homophobia,” she said. “There are so many different forms of oppression all over the place that need dismantling and that’s going to require all of our understanding how we’ve helped the system and how the system will be taken down.”
BSU is currently thinking of ways to keep reinforcing these lessons throughout the year so that they are not forgotten after February.