“Stand Against Racism” brought Binghamton University and community members together to celebrate diversity and address the consequences of racism.
Friday’s event, held in the Old University Union, was hosted by the YWCA of Broome County and BU’s Powerful United Ladies Striving to Elevate (P.U.L.S.E.).
“Stand Against Racism” featured tabling, poetry and a lecture to educate students on the continuing prevalence of racism, and how to fight it.
The event was coordinated in part by Janell Salmon, a senior majoring in human development. A past intern for the YWCA, she said she wanted to make the event bigger at the University.
“We hope that through putting on this event each year, two things would be made aware,” Salmon said. “One, that racism still exists and that it still affects people. Two, there are practical and tangible ways to fight against racism on personal and institutional levels.”
The main speaker for the event was Carole Coppens, the executive director of the YWCA of Binghamton/Broome County, who spoke about the consequences of racism, and her role at the YWCA working with women and people of color.
“As the director of an organization that is committed to eliminating racism and has been for the better part of its almost 160-year existence, we thought it was fitting that Carole Coppens speak at the event,” Salmon said.
At the end of the event, Coppens read the Stand Against Racism pledge, with everyone in the audience following suit.
“As an individual committed to social justice, I stand with the YWCA against racism and discrimination of any kind,” reads the pledge. “I will commit to a lifetime of promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all people in my community and in the world.”
An annual event held nationally by the YWCA, this is Binghamton’s second year celebrating “Stand Against Racism.” Last year’s event featured tabling in the Union by P.U.L.S.E., and this year organizers added more groups, the speaker and a reading by poet Lindsay Young, a sophomore majoring in psychology.
“Even when skittles and hoodies hurt feelings, thank God for black presidents, even when thrift shops win Grammys, thank God for gold plated sippy cups, and when sitting in a class full of faces that look nothing like yours, thank God for how you got there,” read Young, who is a member of the Slam Poetry Club. “Let the stares burn, and light you on fire, make you brighter.”
The BU chapter of the NAACP, the Caribbean Student Association, the Multicultural Resource Center, the Haitian Student Association and the Women’s Student Union (WSU) also tabled.
“The WSU believes in advocating for all oppressed groups regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or socio-economic status,” Deidre Mensah, president of the WSU and a senior majoring in environmental studies, wrote in an email. “We hope to teach attendees that racism manifests itself on multiple levels and not just the ‘KKK burning everything you own’ type of way.”
Salmon concluded the event by telling the audience to use the experience as perspective on understanding diversity.
“When you stand against something, that means you should also stand for something,” Salmon said. “We are standing for cultural diversity and cultural celebration in opposition to racial discrimination.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the Interpersonal Violence Prevention program tabled at the event; they did not. It also did not mention that the BU chapter of the NAACP was present.