On February 19, 2020, the National Association for the Advancement of Black People (NAACP) held their monthly Call to Action on The State of Black Students in America. Thousands of participants dialed in to ask their questions and hear a discussion led by our National Youth and College Director, Tiffany Dena Loftin. This town hall gave listeners the opportunity to learn how to get involved in the crucial work of ensuring that our schools, campuses, and communities are safer for communities of color.
Tiffany was joined by our dynamic panelists to show people how they can get involved and offer real solutions to our communities’ problems. Panelists included:
- Brandon Evans, NAACP University of Hartford Chapter, President
- Brea Baker, Inspire Justice, Programs Director
- Zellie Imani, Black Liberation Collective, Co-founder
- Delanie Seals, High School Organizer, #HeadWrapsMatter, Crown Act
- Yoel Haile, Afrikan Black Coalition, Political Director
Tiffany Dena Loftin opened the call by speaking on our role and responsibility in the spaces that we are in. She said, “it is necessary for those that are directly affected to lead when we see discrimination in our culture and our communities. If we want solutions that please us and make our lives better, they have to be driven by the people on the phone and the people affected.”
When a caller asked about discrimination on predominantly white campuses, Zellie Imani said, “one of the most common problems is the white supremacy on these campuses and the complacency by the university officials…. If you bring an incident to their attention, often times they will make it seem as though it is an isolated incident. Students have to demand that they feel safe on their campuses. These universities need to do something systemically and policy wise.”
Delanie Seals echoed that sentiment by stating, “when you have people who look like you and have experienced the same things as you, you get more empathy and more support when it comes to issues that concern you.” Delanie, who is still in high school, went on to say, “even before I was able to vote, I was making sure that I was contacting my state representatives and telling them the issues that I see in our schools. I think it’s very important for black residents to tell their representatives what they’re struggling with and their concerns.”
Yoel ended the conversation by reminding everyone of a quote by Kwame Ture (aka Stokely Carmichael), “If your people are oppressed and you are not making a contribution to end the sufferings of your people, by your very act of in-action, you are against your people, there is no middle ground.” Yoel went on to say that “none of us has the luxury to sit out of the struggle. We shouldn’t ever have the feeling that we get to sit out on the struggle of healing our people.”
To stay connected, text 2020 BLACKOUT to 40649 and learn ways to help in your community. For more updates follow @NAACP on Twitter and @NAACP_YC on Instagram.