PAECE hosts forum on race in media


Josh Saxton

Akeem Forbes, a junior english major speaks about how money spent revamping the logo could have been used to advertise for higher enrollment during the “Panthers are Really Black” forum Tuesday in the auditorium of Lumpkin Hall.

Thaija Evans, Copy Editor

PAECE put a unique twist on the controversial topic of race and discussed the updated Eastern Panthers logo Tuesday night at the “Panthers Are Really Black” forum.

Tiyaji Williams, the president of PAECE, said the forum was a platform for students to speak out about their thoughts on the relationship between black and white in the media.

“The purpose of the event was to show how the media and other things portray things that were originally black as white such as Beyoncé’s skin being lightened and Annie being white in the movie,” Tiyaji Williams said.

Students were encouraged to address the idea that the media transforms African-American characters and people to make them more socially acceptable by making them Caucasian.

The original characters in the movies “Cleopatra” and “Annie” were African-American, Tiyaji Williams said.

A discussion on the idea of a Caucasian man playing Michael Jackson in an upcoming film also came up.

Tiyaji Williams asked students to voice their beliefs on whether or not Jesus is black, white or neither. ­

Tiyaji Williams said the main subject they wanted to touch on was that African-Americans’ accomplishments often go unnoticed.

“These type of events are necessary just to notice people who don’t often get noticed and make them feel like they are doing something right,” Tiyaji Williams said. “Because often times some people just need that reward and that acknowledgment that you were doing what you were supposed to do.”

Jalen Washington, a junior pre-business management major, said he loved that the organization recognized students for their involvement on campus and debated racial issues.

“(The forum) allows people to think about and discuss topics that don’t typically come up in a normal conversation,” Washington said. “It also allows you to look at things in a different light.”

Javen Young, a sophomore sociology major, said his favorite part of the forum was the opening about black panthers and the acknowledgment of African-American students.

The major debate about Eastern’s updated logo was also brought up during the forum. Tiyaji Williams said 74 percent of the student body voted they were against the logo when it was first released in the fall of 2015.

“I feel as if the new logo is not Eastern anymore. In my opinion it isn’t a panther anymore, which is a terrible feeling because that is not the logo I started here with,” Young said.

Students at the forum questioned why the panther in the new logo is white, when in reality panthers are black. Some students suggested the logo was changed to increase revenue from advertisements. Others said the new logo is unrealistic and should be black to accurately depict a panther.

“I just don’t like the fact that it is not a panther, but I do feel like it looks sophisticated,” Washington said.

Yolanda Williams, the African-American Heritage Month chair, said following the logo change, former vice president for university advancement Bob Martin made a racially offensive remark. Yolanda Williams filed a complaint against Martin.

PAECE often host forums that focus on sensitive subjects and this one was no different.

“(The forum) brings attention to the issue of black minorities being pushed aside and unnoticed,” Tiyaji Williams said.

PAECE does not have any more events coming up for African-American Heritage Month, but the group will be hosting its second annual Women Who Wine and Dine event. Tiyaji Williams said the event’s purpose is to empower women.

The event also honored several students for their active involvement on campus in clubs and organizations.

Thaija Evans can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].