Black History Month at Skyline

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     This month, Skyline College is celebrating what, since 1926, is the Black History Month in the Unites States. Both faculty and students here at Skyline have organized and held a few events honoring it.
     On Feb. 11, there was a dialogue group put together as a class project by a group of black psychology students, which included, Lizette Varela, Helene Applegate, Azran Ashroff and Jonahtan Hayten. A few members of Skyline’s staff and one student spoke about the meaning and daily use of the “N word.” The conference was followed by questions and comments by the students in the audience.
     The speakers shared their knowledge on the meaning and composition of the word, which is a derogatory word of black people and was initially a term used by Spanish slave traders to address these people that was later “adapted” to our language and modified by different groups.
     “We wanted to put a panel of professors together to educate students on the history of the word,” Varela said. “The dialogue was put together to try and educate students on the word they frequently use. We wanted for people to leave with a sense that the word should not be used in our campus by any ethnic group, because (it) has so much horrible background.”
     They also expressed their opinions as to whether the word should be used by both members of the black community and people from other ethnic groups. Most were against the use of the word and their reasons were similar, mainly their thought was that it is offensive and disrespected the black community. Others thought that it was up to every individual to choose the words they could use.
     “(The word shows) The racist legacy of the United States,” said Karen Wong, a Skyline English teacher. “I would propose that we don’t use the word.”
     Being part of the black community, some of the speakers had experiences, mostly bad, with the word and therefore had the strongest reasons to express their arguments.
     “I don’t think anybody should use that word, it just hurts too much,” said James Herndon, head of Skyline’s security department. “I don’t think that any other group has earned the right to call black people that.”
     Also, as part of the forum, the organizers played a motion picture and a couple of songs to make a point of how youth, not only African-American but from all ethnicities, have adopted the word as they are constantly exposed to it — many artists exploit the word in song lyrics and movies as well.
     “We have taken the word and put an ‘A’ on the end of it and pretend like it is okay to use it but it’s not,” said Gordon D, a Skyline student who also spoke at the event.
     The audience was very diverse; most people who attended were not African-American, and the group was not especially large.
     “Dr. Jackson’s black psychology class has been trying to put good presentations together for Black History Month and we have not been successful in getting an audience to participate,” Varela said.
     “The ‘nigga’ word dialogue was a great presentation with a very good message, however we expected a bigger turn out. We were disappointed.”
     A lecture by Skyline’s political science teacher Dr. Massare was scheduled for the Feb. 12, but it was postponed due to lack of participation.