Dr Know It All

Dr. Know-It-All Panel Answers Cornell’s Questions About Race

 

On Tuesday, February 9, a panel sponsored by BACO answered questions that were submitted by Cornell students the previous Monday. These questions were about the black experience, black culture, current problems facing the black community, and the nature and origin of Black History Month. The panel featured Peter Catchings (16), Glory-Lieb Tetuh (17), Kayla Morton (16), Fin Amanor-Boadu (16), and Kahn Branch (16), who all took turns answering questions that ranged from the appropriation of black culture to mass incarceration and the shootings of black teenagers and young adults.

Members of BACO answer questions and facilitate conversations
Photo taken by Jessica Meis

on the rudest thing that’s happened to them at Cornell:

“My freshman year I had a noose hung in my room. That was something that I think has meant more now that I’ve embraced my blackness and culture.  My freshman year I was more involved in athletics, was more involved with individuals I think I didn’t want to cause trouble with, and after removing myself from that situation this is something that now I would definitely have a much more aggressive reaction towards than I did my freshman year.”–Peter Catchings (16)

“The rudest experience that I have had is someone actually saying the ‘n’ word to my face. At the time, I did not know how to respond, so I calmly walked away. That is something that has shaped my experience here ever since that happened to me.”–Kayla Morton (16)

“It really bothers me when tropes about black people are accepted in classroom settings. I was in a course about Islam in Europe and someone was trying to talk about the experiences of a specific individual in a film that we were talking about, and that conversation that was supposed to be about Islam in five seconds turned into a conversation about how black people like fried chicken.”–Glory-Lieb Tetuh (17)

 

on microaggressions:

“The definition of a microaggression is whenever a comment is given in the expectation of being a compliment. But it’s not a compliment, because it comes with the presumption of irregularity of this individual’s conduct. You are the exception to what is perceived to be common. ‘You speak well, or you articulate ideas in a manner which I did not presume possible, because all black people speak like they just got off of a Ludacris album.’”–Khan Branch (16)

“It’s the sorts of things that people say without thinking about them, but really at its root is the larger system of white supremacy, of ‘there is something that is wrong or different about particular states of being.’ The language that we use can in many ways casually validate that, and so it comes back to analyzing what is happening casually, what is happening without thought, without intentional reflection on its impact, because the impact is not ‘micro.’ The impact is large.”–Fin Amanor-Boadu (16)

 

on touching hair:

“When you decide that you automatically have some privilege to come up to me, don’t ask my permission, and touch my hair, touch a part of my body that is mine and does not belong to you––you’re putting me on show. You’re treating me as an object. You’re objectifying me. I am a person. Regardless of whether I buy my hair or not, it is mine the second it is on me and you do not get to touch it.”–Glory-Lieb Tetuh (17)

“It’s my hair, and your hands are dirty. Don’t touch it. Why are you so obsessed with touching my hair? My hair is part of my culture, it doesn’t belong to you. Stay away. Do not touch.”–Kayla Morton (16)

BACO answers questions from Cornell community to kick off Black History Month
Photo taken by Jessica Meis

on the murders of black young adults:

“It’s not our job to take the target off our backs. That’s not up to us, and we can’t do that ourselves. I think a lot of young black men and women don’t understand that these targets are on their back. And I from a very young age understood that. I was equipped to slip out of that. And for me personally, I think that it’s up to us to equip the younger generation with those tools.”–Peter Catchings (16)

“I was taught by my mother to conduct myself as a white boy does. I was told that I had to speak in a different way, different than how I speak at home. I had to dress in a certain way, different than what was done at home. I was made to present myself in such a way so I seemed less easy to kill.”–Khan Branch (16)

“It is a difficult system to navigate, because we have to simultaneously survive on one hand, and then on the other hand we have to figure out how to survive in a way that doesn’t kill our soul, kill our spirit, or kill our history.”–Fin Amanor-Boadu (16)

On Tuesday, February 9, a panel sponsored by BACO answered questions that were submitted by Cornell students the previous Monday. These questions were about the black experience, black culture, current problems facing the black community, and the nature and origin of Black History Month. The panel featured Peter Catchings (16), Glory-Lieb Tetuh (17), Kayla Morton (16), Fin Amanor-Boadu (16), and Kahn Branch (16), who all took turns answering questions that ranged from the appropriation of black culture to mass incarceration and the shootings of black teenagers and young adults.

 

Katherine Uhlenkamp, Arts & Entertainment Editor



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