Panel addresses stereotypes about Blacks

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    By JESSICA RIPPLE

    Students at Thursday’s Black History Month panel discussion emphasized the need to find a solution for dealing with stereotypes.

    The panel discussion sponsored by the Black Student Union and The Service Leadership Involvement Center was an opportunity for students to ask questions to a panel of black students and a faculty member and receive some first-hand answers.

    Anesha Brown, a recreational therapist and former BYU student, addressed the stereotype of black members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Brown is also a social services director of a facility for the developmentally disabled. Brown said many people think it is not possible to be LDS and black.

    “I know it is possible,” she said. “I follow the standards and try to be an example to others. My testimony is strong.”

    Desmond Lomax, a sophomore from Gambrills, Md., majoring in political science, also addressed the issue of being black and LDS. Lomax said he has always been LDS.

    Before coming to Utah he thought that ‘Mormons’ lived in Utah and Latter-day Saints lived everywhere else.

    “Here in Utah it’s a social thing, but back home I just lived it because I knew it was true,” he said. “When I first came here to BYU all the members helped me to grow.”

    Abe Mills, also a member of the LDS Church, came here to be around other members of the church.

    “Sometimes I didn’t really feel like I was accepted in the ward and sometimes it was great,” Mills said.

    When asked about affirmative action, Brian Mitchell, an assistant football coach and advisor to the Black Student Union, was the first of the panel to respond.

    “Is there racism still going on today?” he asked. “As long as we have racism and discrimination we will need affirmative action. I still think we need it 120 percent.”

    Brown also responded to the question of affirmative action. Brown said the set-up of affirmative action needs to be more specific, needs to take into consideration education and work ethic, and then give a black applicant a fair shot at the job.

    Lomax said his mom always told him, “Desmond, to get ahead you’ll have to work twice as hard as a white man.”

    “I like a challenge,” Lomax said.

    Mills felt the students who attended the discussion were learning more and understanding more.

    “Your attendance shows more than just tolerance, it shows that you are embracing diversity,” Mills told the crowd of approximately 150 people.

    Mark Morris, a sophomore from Alabama majoring in communications, and the organizer of the panel discussion, said it was a great success.

    “We all learned from one another,” he said.

    Another panel discussion will be held on Feb. 27 at 11 a.m. in 396 ELWC.

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