ABC Fashion show

Footage of the FDU’s annual fashion show and an interview with its president Kadi Cisse

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FDU asks the question are we post racial.

Last Tuesday hours before President Obama gave his 5th State of the Union speech, Fairleigh Dickinson University hosted the first Hot Topics of the semester by posing a question: are we a post-racial society?

            The event called ‘The Media and Race: Are we post-racial yet?’ Was held at Lenfell Hall and sponsored by the Becton College of Arts and Science, the Student Government Association and the Black History Month Committee.    

                        The panel chose to cover four talking points to answer the question. The first was the performances of the Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, and Beyoncé at the Super Bowl. The second was the Volkswagen commercial with white characters speaking in Jamaican accents.

            The Third, being the film Django Unchained. The Fourth and final one, was the issue of Driving While Black or DWB which is when the police seem to be targeting black male drivers more than others. One of these DWB incidents involved former CNN host T.J. Holmes.

The panel consisted of Professors Katie Singer, creator of the African-American Studies Minor and Henry Margenau. 

The panel also included students SaKarra Fite, a senior and Devon Douglas-Bowers, a junior. 

 Singer pointed out that if the media is “suggesting that we no longer need to define any issues by race if that is what they mean then we are not post-racial” she said.

She also said that there is something “inherently racist” of a society refusing to acknowledge a discussion on race. As a result there is a problem.

One of which was that while the performers of the Super where all black, Singer pointed out that the fact that we are talking about it, discredits the yes we are in a post-racial society argument.    

 During the DWB incident involving Holmes, Margenau chose to focus on the media’s portrayal, saying that “the media tends to sensationalize things” in order to help make a profit and also the media works well when it divides people up.

As a result “the media perhaps is an impediment on the process,” Margenau said.

He also point out that there is a difference between mimesis and mimicking with mocking. Saying that a film like Django Unchained is more of a homage to ‘Spaghetti Westerns’ and Blaxploitation films rather than something controversial as mocking slavery. That said, a film like this makes the argument that we are in a post-racial society because it has entered pop culture.

Fite, focused on the film Django Unchained first. While she admitted that she did not see the movie, she did see the negative commentary about the film. Particularly when people were incensed about Jamie Foxx said something along the lines of being happy to be killing a whole bunch of white people in the film. Thus leading people to believe that black people were to become militant against whites. But, as Fite pointed out “that’s clearly not true.”   

When it came to the Volkswagen commercial they all agreed that the criticism was overblown. Douglas-Bowers saw it as a sign of humor.

“If you are in a post-racial society you can do things like that.” He said.                   

            Fite put it in a different context by saying that the uproar over it makes a “distinction between culture and race.” Since the critics were overemphasizing on the Jamaican accents it could in Fite’s opinion make people too sensitive about a person or another group of people’s cultural image that may be similar to their own.     

            In the case of the halftime show, it was in Douglas-Bowers opinion was “a tribute to women,” and did not see race. Instead he saw Destiny’s Child and a female instrumentalist on stage. Add on Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keys who performed prior to the start of the game it was a space made for women in an otherwise male dominated organization.

            However when it came to the open forum portion of ‘Hot Topics’ most in the audience  and the panel seemed to agree that we are not post racial yet, but are slowly getting there.  

            Margenau said that while we “acknowledge racial insensitivity” he agreed with Professor Singer’s on that they are still remnants of some form of racism.     

            Talmia Iges a senior said that “if we are not going to acknowledge that things happened then we are not going to get past it.” She went a bit further to say that “things happen behind the scenes” such as economic factor that are prevent us from becoming post-racial.   

Geoffrey Weinman Dean of Becton College summed it up best by saying that he was unsure that “we can be post-racial without being post-racist. And that the comments of some people in the media [i.e. Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh] suggest that we are not yet post racist.”