Feeling overlooked and unsupported by PCC, living in fear and getting harassed by police are just some of the experiences Black students and staff shared on the “Our Black Lives Matter – Listening Forum” that occurred on Thursday, June 4. As each panel member shared and read a portion of the resolution presented to the Academic Senate for them to denounce the killings of Black people, things simultaneously grew very emotional and heated.
Frustrated by the lack of action and Black student and staff support at PCC, this event was created by and featured Black coordinators of PCC. Student voices were also heard as each panelist presented different actions PCC should take to better the Black student and staff support system going forward.
Dr. Gena Lopez, coordinator for Ujima and Blackademia programs, invited the campus to come listen at this panel the prior week.
“My fear is, it doesn’t matter how accomplished I am, I can end up like Breonna Taylor,” PCC student Trinity Jolley said. “She was already established in her career, it doesn’t matter if I’m a doctor or what city I live in. I wake up with the fear that I will die. No matter how hard I try to fight every stereotype casted upon me, I could still wake up tomorrow and die for no reason. I have to sit here and explain to my eight-year-old brother why we’re being killed for no reason. Y’all can educate yourself but y’all are not the ones experiencing what we’re going through.”
As a listening forum, the event was done on Zoom while also broadcasting to the PCC YouTube page, where the video was also listed following the broadcast.
“When I got to PCC, I also noticed and experienced faculty who had some kind of superiority complex when dealing with Black students,” PCC student Destiny Cable said. “In terms of offering resources, resources that are there for students, what other purpose are the resources there for if not to give them to other students? There was this woman who gave me a sort of condescending attitude and did not make me feel welcome when I asked her what the resources were that I could potentially benefit from… It is your job to support Black students.”
Many students spoke of microaggressions they have experienced or seen in classroom settings that go largely unaddressed and unpunished. Of the actions students and staff called for PCC to do in their Call to Action, the following were some of what was included: more resources and spaces for Black students and staff, more funding for those spaces, more classes reflecting Black experiences, more Black teachers and more frequent microaggression and equity training for PCC staff.
“You all who are on this call, who are not African American or non people of color, you have failed all of the students at PCC,” Associated Student President Dionne Shelton said. “You have been in education for 20, 30 plus years allowing this system to continually oppress my people… The African American community at PCC is less than four percent. Why is that when Pasadena city has a large Black community?”
Based on the many actions this forum presented that are needed to make PCC a more supportive and encouraging environment for Black students and staff, this statement seems to be agreed upon amongst the panel and its constituents.
“I shouldn’t have to get a PhD to have my voice heard,” Shelton continued. “I shouldn’t have to be president of Associated Students for you to listen to me. I’m here to tell you that you need to check yourself and your privilege… Stand up now or remove yourself. How dare you call yourself an educator, claim that PCC is the most diverse community college in California community college system and then you ignore the calls, cries and reports in your very own institutions.”
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