Grace Jordan, Campus Carrier arts & living editor
Ibram X. Kendi joined Berry last Monday to talk about his book “How to Be an Antiracist.” The talk was hosted by Berry Center for Integrity in Leadership and numerous students logged on to Zoom to witness Kendi discuss racism and how to combat it.
Freshman Gabriella Cole didn’t read the book, but listened to Kendi’s talk.
“I think it was helpful, especially as a person who didn’t read the book,” Cole said. “It was kind of an intro to the book and how to be an antiracist. He definitely brought up some good points. There are going to be uncomfortable situations and uncomfortable moments and it’s going to be hard, but you have to get through it because you know it’s going to be good in the end. He made really good comparisons to going to the doctor’s office or the dentist and tackling situations like this. You go to the doctor because you know you’re going to be better, not because you like it.”
According to Cole, the facilitators added a certain level of depth to the conversation with their questions.
“The student who led the discussion had really good questions,” Cole said. “They brought up a good point that we shed the spotlight on people of color, we put all the pressure on them to do the work and there’s ways that white people can do it. We have to be willing to step up. We can do more and not have it be a burden for people of color.”
According to sophomore Lirio Morales, Kendi’s talk opened the eyes of some people who had formerly not been knowledgeable on the subject.
“Something I saw was people who hadn’t seen that perspective or had heard it from others, but now have heard it from a more notable speaker, took more notice of it,” Morales said. “So that was beneficial, even though it should’ve been heard the first time. Even though it is kind of frustrating, the end result of someone hearing that and taking it in and processing it was good to see.”
Morales shared her high praises of the talk.
“I think he was a great speaker, I completely understood him,” Morales said. “I’m so glad I got to hear him speak. He’s such a role model to look up to. He’s overcome all these things and not only did he learn from them, but also gets to educate others. It was really cool to hear such a notable speaker.”
Sophomore Cristina Gomez similarily saw the benefits of the talk, but also noted the redundance.
“It was a really good talk,” Gomez said. “It was necessary, but a lot of the stuff he said we’ve been asking for already. All the protests and everything we’ve come forward about, is stuff we’ve been asking for.”
Gomez added that the conversation should go beyond school-sanctioned events.
“He mentioned stuff about systematic racism, stuff about how we as students need to come together,” Gomez said. “He mentioned when a group of kids in a sport meet up, they think that’s fine, but when a group of students who are people of color come together, they’re being rebellious. It’s stuff we’ve already been saying, we’ve already been asking Berry to do. You brought him here, he’s telling you everything we’ve told you, what are you going to do with that information?”
Junior Kelvin Wilson also listened to the talk.
“I really enjoyed the book,” Wilson said. “I think it was a great talk. Dr. Kendi touched on a lot of important topics. I think he really addressed all the things we as students were trying to address last semester, he just did it in a more professional way.”
Wilson noted that while the event was helpful and needed, students are still wondering what the next step is in creating a better climate for people of color at Berry.
“I can speak for most students and say we want to see change on campus,” Wilson said. “I think talking about race is the first step, but we haven’t gone past the first step yet.”
According to Wilson, the next step starts with listening.
“I want it to help change, but the only way things are going to is if people are willing to listen,” Wilson said. “That’s always been the case. That’s how Martin Luther King was able to progress, that’s how the women’s right movement was able to progress. Because people wanted to listen. I think that’s the same way here, the people in the staff and faculty are really going to have to listen to what we are saying in order for it to change.”