Taking action for women of color

A smiling young black womanBy Chanel Stitt
Staff Writer

The month of March is where America celebrates women. There are many events all across the world honoring women and multiple in the city of Ann Arbor talking about how to take action as an activist for women.

The 35th annual Women of Color Task Force conference held by Center for the Education of Women, which took place earlier this month, discussed race in the media and how to take on careers as women of color.
Members who were first time attendees, to 35-year attendees had their time to stand and be recognized for attending this tradition.

The keynote speakers were Jane Elliott and Roland Martin.

Jane Elliot’s work on activism began after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. where she created the “Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes” exercise. The exercise put people through the test of experiencing situations as a minority.
Roland Martin has been in the media business for a long time and he currently is the host of a show called Newsone Now where he discusses any stories that are about black people and politics.

Both of them have received death threats and more based upon their work over the years. They have been known to most people as civil rights activists but Martin prefers otherwise.

“I do not consider myself to be a civil rights activist,” Martin said. “I am a journalist, but as a journalist, I am a journalist in the pursuit of truth and justice.”

Martin mentioned that many people are living lies on a daily basis by saying being prejudice is nonexistent within oneself but there is still a separation when going about the day by day routine.

“I’ve worked in mainstream media and I’ve worked in black press,” Martin said. “The reason, in black press, that’s critically important is because that’s where you’ve seen the most truth. Black press has forced mainstream media to do its job when it comes to these issues.”

Martin explained how those of the black press use certain terminology with each other, but when it is brought to mainstream media, it can sometimes scare off viewers.

For example, he discussed when he was talking to a senator of the same race. He used the phrase “brotha” which is commonly said between persons of the black race. Based on the connotation of the word, the CEO of CNN came to him and said to be careful using the word.

When having conversations about prejudice statements in the workplace, Jane Elliott advises people to look at her website, janeelliott.com, to find information about what is and is not appropriate to say. There are materials about the statements used, how they are perceived, and helping to decide whether action has ever been taken before or not.

Elliott mentioned both races are prejudice because most have learned the same social studies, explaining that racism is taught in schools. Beginning with early education, many history books start off with slavery being the beginning but there is an extensive amount of history before that took place she mentioned.

“Skin color does not indicate intelligence or lack of it,” Elliott said. “It doesn’t indicate ability or disability.”

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