On April 14 at 6:30 pm, the Springfield College Division of Inclusion and Community Engagement and title sponsor Berkshire Bank presented the debut of a new series, Courageous Conversations.
The feature speaker for the event was award-winning journalist and CEO of Ernest Media Empire, LCC, Ernest Owens. Owens was introduced by Student Trustee Kris Rhim, who has been a catalyst himself for pushing conversations like this for students and the Springfield College community.
Owens emphasized the importance of understanding the news that is being received. Often times, there are news stations showing opinion segments that are made for entertainment, rather than simply giving the truth.
This is because news broadcasting is a business and strong personalities that argue with each other about big topics are going to get higher viewership than someone reading off facts.
“I think a lot of people just simply, you know, watch what they like. Or, they say, ‘I like Angela Rye,’ well is Angela Rye an academic or expert who can really talk about race, or is she just a personality?” Owens said.
It is okay to watch these types of programs, but it is important to recognize that they are sometimes exaggerating or even communicating false information. Owens urges people to get back into reading, where they will find much more credible information that will help them to understand what is going on in the world and what needs to be done.
Owens also discussed the idea of taking action. Oftentimes, people want to ensue change at the highest level, thinking that is the only way real progress can occur. However, there is plenty of work to be done at the local level, places that are much more impressionable for anyone and everyone; smaller scale change will help to create that larger progress within the country.
“The issues that we see nationally are so much closer to us than we can imagine,” said Owens. “You have people right in front of you that you should be challenging.”
Beginning to challenge things that have become norms in society will help to create that small change that will hopefully help the nation and state of minds of generations to come.
Things like having textbooks written by more diverse people, embedding race issues in curriculum rather than just having one or two specified courses on the topic, and recognizing funding disparities between programs, clubs and departments. These are things that anyone can challenge to help make a better environment on their campuses.
Having this conversation at school with the community is an important step. Owens acknowledges that it needs to start at home and in classrooms in order for people to empathize and become allies that want to help improve the climate in their communities.
“The real movement work with college students, the real things you can do at this moment, is in your own backyard,” said Owens.
The first installment of the Courageous Conversations series was an important lecture to hear for the Springfield College community.
Owens preached the idea that students can begin to make changes in their own environments, and it was inspiring and important to understand that action is needed to be taken.
Photo Courtesy Division of Inclusion and Community Engagement