Fisher teams up with community members to hold racial equity panel for student body

By Nandi Sommers ' 21, staff writer

By Nandi Sommers ‘ 21, staff writer

In late October, St. John Fisher held a panel on racial restoration which was an event open to the whole campus community at Fisher. 

The racial equity panel aimed to empower, support, and hear out the voices of guest speakers and students. The overall aim for this panel was to also bring unity and healing and it was in collaboration with partners in restorative initiatives including Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Levine Center to End Hate at the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester, as well as BTP Accountability Partners. 

The equity forum highlighted how Black Lives Matter has been impactful for the Black community here in Rochester but also highlighted the struggles black people face living in Rochester. Tasha Potter, an educator in Rochester school system, also gave an important weighty statement while addressing the ‘All lives matter’ movement. “I think about the phrase ‘all lives matter’ and it really suggests we are putting everyone on equal footing and it conveys a sense of unity to ‘all lives matter’ to ‘black lives matter,’ but in actuality, as a black woman, the way the black community possibly receives that is of course negative. They are receiving that more of a divisive response more than a unifying response. It’s because it discounts and diminishes the focus of what we have experienced of violence and discrimination,” she said.

Potter went on to mention, “When people start to respond and center their experience around all lives mattering and thinking about their safety being as equally important, the truth to the matter is that black Americans in our country are disproportionately impacted by police violence and systemic racism, so much so that when you have that statement it truly does ignore the reality.” 

During the panel of racial restoration, it was even addressed about how much harder it is for black citizens to acquire a job in Rochester within the medical field and field of law due to the color of their skin. Black lives were addressed, but also the lives of biracial people in America were too. Often times, biracial people in America can feel as if they are stuck in between and uncertain when it comes to their race because they aren’t considered fully black nor considered fully white. Janson McNair, who is a part of commander staff of services with Monroe County and also the first African American Bureau Chief in Sheriff’s Office history, gave voice during the forum about why the topic of racial injustice, when it comes to talking about racial injustice, clear communication and transparency, is very important. 

Brya Potter, who works as an educator in the Rochester area, gave a statement on race and growing up as a black woman and educator in America. “As a student I saw black and brown students being treated differently as my white peers and even as an educator, working in the city school district seeing my black and brown students being treated unfairly, having uncommittable outcomes and practices attributed to them out of biases that were placed, that some teachers didn’t know that they had.” 

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