Black Student Union Straight Talk: A Dialogue on Race  

Maris Meyer, Executive Editor

On Tuesday, February 9th, Fairmont State University’s Black Student Union joined with Student Life to host a Straight Talk in Honor of Black History Month. This week’s talk was a “Dialogue on Race”. Anyone was able to join the discussion and around ten guests were present apart from the main speakers. The main speakers consisted of members of the Black Student Union, Fairmont State Professor, Dr. Hinton, and the Assistant Director of Student Life, Evan Fossen.  

The night started with Evan Fossen introducing the discussion as well as briefly discussing the different events that the Black Student Union will be hosting throughout the remainder of February. After that Fossen introduced Dr. Hinton and Aaliyah Williams, the president of Fairmont State’s Black Student Union.  

To start Dr. Hinton mentioned that back in 1993 he taught a class on race and gender, which gave him insight on the subject. He also introduced another speaker, Dr. Erica Harvey, professor of Chemistry. Through the entirety of the discussion each of the speakers had their own pieces to share, but it was more of an open discussion instead of a lecture.  

Different questions were asked as a way to kick start each part of the discussion. Aaliyah Williams introduced the starting questions while making sure all in attendance knew it was a safe and judgment-free space. The first questions that were brought up were: What does race mean to you? and Why is there a [racial] division? The most common answer that came up was that race is about where you came from, or that it was a manmade concept meant to separate people. It was also said that human beings naturally categorize and label things and people as a way to understand them.  

Dr. Hinton said, “Biologically there is no such thing as race”, while he explained that by definition human is the only race of people.  

Another aspect of race that was discussed was how we can help relations between blacks and whites and some practical ways to do so. The majority of the attendees agreed that a big way to improve relations is through communication and the willingness to acknowledge, understand, and support one another. One of the ways we can do that is through inclusive education at an early age. After all, in the past black history was mainly taught during Black History Month instead of all year, in school settings. But don’t rely on your friends and associates of color to educate you, use resources to educate yourself. 

From there the discussion moved to the environment here at Fairmont State. Most of everyone hadn’t seen anything happen on Fairmont’s campus but some also stated that they are beginning to look at things from another perspective. A couple of the students believed that there might have been microaggressions on campus that were caused by a lack of education. It was explained during the discussion that microaggressions can happen unintentionally due to the person being unaware. 

To wrap up the event, Evan Fossen thanked everyone for joining the discussion and mentioned the upcoming Black Student Union events one more time. Fossen also said that the plan was to have more of these talks to “continue the conversation” throughout the semester, but the exact dates are not determined at this point. If anyone is interested in attending the upcoming events, they can find the links to them on the Student Life calendar