California State University, Northridge students examined issues ranging from black men in the music industry and black men trapped in the penal system to black on black violence at the Bi-Annual Men of Color Enquiry and Student Research Poster Session.
The event, sponsored by the Department of Pan African Studies, the W.E.B. DuBois-Fannie Lou Hamer Institute for Academic Achievement and other campus partners, was held on Nov. 26 in the University Student Union’s Grand Salon. It showcased 11 student posters from the Pan African Studies course, “The Black Man in Contemporary Times,” and featured guest speaker Dyrell Foster, dean of students at Rio Hondo College and an expert on the engagement of African-American male students.
“We felt these were the most prevalent issues that impact black males,” said Glenna Dixon, a junior majoring in journalism and Pan African Studies, who along with two other students presented a poster titled, “Black Male Identity: The Effects of Education, Media and Policy.” She said the university and community need to challenge the stereotypical media portrayals of black men.
Quinton Johnson, a communications studies major, and Aubrey’nay Johnson, a health administration major, presented their poster, “Black on Black Violence.” They questioned why black-on-black violence is so high. According to a 2005 Bureau of Justice Statistics report, more than 90 percent of black murder victims are killed by other black people.
“A lot of the crime is subject to domestic violence issues,” said Johnson. “We’re frustrated with each other because of pressures and issues in society.”
His poster partner agreed. “It’s a cycle,” Aubrey’Nay Johnson said. “We have to break it.”
Cedric Hackett, the professor of the class and assistant chair of the Pan African studies department, said he organized the event to expose students to a technique used in black studies called “kufundisha,” which allows the professor to observe collective categories of learners while they explore social experiences that are “racially inspiring and liberating.”
He said the course also offers students an opportunity to present “nonscientific” research in a experience that is not normally available at the undergraduate level.
Foster applauded CSUN’s Department of Pan African Studies in its effort to bring awareness to the complex issues that African-American males experience in the community and on a college campus.
“Courses like this provide an opportunity to discuss these issues and find ways to make a college campus a more welcoming environment for African-American students,” Foster said. “We need to surround our students with positive mentors and role models.”