Let's Talk About It
Let's Talk About It seeks to provide a platform for constructive discussions on race from multi-disciplinary perspectives.
Let’s Talk About It is a student-focused, facilitated conversation series, which explores racial justice and equity; including but not limited to topics on privilege, protest, and anti-racism.
Feb. 3, 1 p.m.
Playing the Game (of Life) on Hard Mode: Racism in Video Games and Our Discussions About Games
Presenter: Mike Piero, Professor of English and 2020-2021 Mandel Humanities Research Fellow
This session will offer a brief presentation of racist representations (and moments of anti-racist resistance) in some of the most popular video games of the past 15 years, including The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, World of Warcraft, Grand Theft Auto and South Park: The Fractured but Whole. The session will also address how rhetoric surrounding violence in video games often targets games that feature people and communities of color, thus reinforcing a racist desire for “safe” white suburban communities ̶ a desire historically linked to calls for increased policing, redlining, segregation and other such discriminatory public policies meant to keep Black Americans from building wealth, and accessing predominantly white communities and resources. As David Leonard’s research demonstrates, the public moral panic and discussions surrounding video game violence therefore becomes yet another conduit for racism. How do we play games with racist and colonialist content ethically? How do we discuss such games with others? How do we interpret and subvert these game narratives and representations? Discussion with the audience to follow presentation.
Register by Feb. 2.
Feb. 17, 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.
The Rhetorical Power and Language of Advocacy in African American Literature From Colonial Times Through the Civil Rights Era
Presenter: Trista Powers, Assistant Professor, English, Metropolitan Campus
Let’s talk about African American historical figures such as Phillis Wheatley, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Pauline Hopkins, Alain Locke, W.E.B. Du Bois, Paul Laurence Dunbar, James Baldwin, Gloria Naylor and Octavia Butler, and how their writing provides an edifying framework for us to explore the language of advocacy.
Register by Feb. 16.
How It Started
As a Black man, I have long seen men of color murdered at the hands of people who were supposed to protect the public. In many of those cases, the men (some of them just boys) were attacked by police based on a call from a “concerned” citizen. In some cases, they were accused of showing aggressive behavior toward others. In all cases, officers swooped in in force and became physically aggressive during a non-aggressive situation, leaving the Black man either dead or seriously injured.
At the same time, I’ve seen scenes in which a white man threatens or commits murder, and after some verbal exchange — sometimes while still holding his firearm — is peacefully taken into custody by sympathetic police officers. In many of these cases, the white man is physically abusive to the officers and still makes it to jail without physical harm coming to him.
For well over 400 years, Black men, women and children have been victimized, threatened and murdered without just cause or justice. Why have these crimes gone unpunished? How has the sense of “just-us” become so poisoned? Who will stand up with Black individuals and families to call for the system-wide change that must happen?
Why is a non-threatening Black man dead at the hands of the very officers who are supposed to protect him, while a white man who openly threatens those around him is taken into custody and treated with consideration — while the community openly agrees with and approves of these practices?
This was the platform for the Let’s Talk About It series: to give us all an opportunity to address our biases, our privilege, and the racial dynamic within which we exist and operate.
As a result of these conversations, participants have had meaningful, positive and life-changing awakenings. I have received many calls and messages from people who shared that they simply did not realize that what they were doing or saying was not racially appropriate or considerate — these conversations (and, in some cases, actions) were just what they’d learned from their families.
I am both proud and grateful that Let's Talk About It has given people an opportunity to embrace and enact positive change.
Johnie L. Reed, M.P.O.D., M.Ed., AFC®
Assistant Professor, Business Administration