The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Forum features discussion on race relations

For most students, the words “Saturday afternoon forum” probably don’t spark excitement. But the Black and Latino Student Association’s forum on race relations was considered a success by president Angelica Hambrick.

“We had a really big turnout,” she said. “(The facilitators) said it was the biggest turnout they’ve had for a thing like this.”

About 80 students, professors and members of BLSA attended the forum, which UW-Madison professors Richard Davis and Will Clifton facilitated.

“(Davis has) really gotten into educating people associated with the UW campuses with race,” said Persia Davis.

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Persia Davis is a freshman at UW-Eau Claire and a member of BLSA. Richard Davis, her father, is a professor of music in Madison and founder of the Retention Action Program.

“He basically tries to promote open dialogue,” Persia Davis said. “We required he bring a white facilitator with him. We thought if we had a white facilitator it might just open things up.”

The documentary “Color of Fear” was shown. During the film eight men of different ethnicities discussed their experiences of racism and other racial issues.

After the film, everyone broke into small groups to discuss racial issues before joining together as a large group.

“A lot of people talked about their own experiences in race,” said Hambrick, who added that the fairly homogeneous makeup of UW-Eau Claire was also discussed. “.

“It’s OK to go to a (BLSA) meeting whether you’re black, or you’re Latino, or you’re white, or you’re Asian.”

And that was the general theme of the meeting – getting people to open up and share their experiences.

Persia Davis said one of many interesting moments was when a white student spoke of his mother, who had voiced racist ideas throughout his upbringing.

“Then one day he was like `Mom, why are you such a racist?'” she said. “That shows how racism can be passed on through generations and it takes somebody to break that link.”

Persia Davis said BLSA aggressively advertised the event, but still was surprised at the great turnout Saturday.

“It’s just a new form of education,” she said. “We might try to make it an annual thing.”

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Forum features discussion on race relations