PSA makes strides in combatting racism on MC campus

All semester students will be gathering for workshops on racial justice led by the Progressive Student Alliance. The first workshop was titled “Racial Justice Salon” and allowed those present to role-play situations where issues of race come up in everyday life. Photo by Virginia Johnson.
All semester students will be gathering for workshops on racial justice led by the Progressive Student Alliance. The first workshop was titled “Racial Justice Salon” and allowed those present to role-play situations where issues of race come up in everyday life. Photo by Virginia Johnson.

This year has encompassed negativity on a great scale. With issues of the mistreatment of minorities, many are left wondering what the best ways to be supportive are. The Progressive Student Alliance has put a plan into action to help inform students on campus of ways to be a positive influence and an ally to people of color.

“This fall semester we’re going to do a monthly series on racial justice and specifically how white people can be better allies to people of color,” said Virginia Johnson, PSA president.

The PSA is an organization that originally started on campus as The Green Party. Johnson explained that the group changed their name in hopes of becoming a more inclusive group. While the group was originally tied to a specific political party, they are now more focused on activism.

The group’s main purpose is to educate the campus about issues that they think are important not only on campus, but locally and nationally. Through activism, Johnson hopes that the group helps others to realize how their voices can be heard.

The first of the workshops in this series, titled “Racial Justice Conversations Salon,” took place on Oct. 4 in the Center for Campus Ministry. Those moderating included members of both the Latino Student Alliance and the Black Student Alliance as well as campus minister Anne McKee.

“Students created scenarios based on subtle or overt racist situations or comments they encounter in their everyday lives, and then discussed how to manage such situations,” McKee said. “Throughout these exercises, there was open discussion and contemplation of ways we interact across racial lines.”

The PSA and its supporters in this series believe that the conversation of racial justice is important to have on campus.

“College students have an opportunity to grow in their understanding of people who come from different backgrounds, to develop friendships, and to transform their attitudes,” McKee said.

McKee acknowledges that students can develop and transform naturally by being around peers of other races and backgrounds. However, she feels it is much more beneficial to be direct and think together about how to understand others. Through these PSA workshops, students are encouraged to help build a society where people of all races have the benefits that this culture has to offer.

Later in the semester students can plan to attend the workshop titled “Check Your Justice” on Nov. 8 from 5-8 p.m. in the CCM . During November’s event participants can expect to talk about the intersections of different kinds of privileges and ways to use those in order to benefit different communities.

On Dec. 2 from 7-10 p.m. in Lawson Auditorium the event will include a screening of “Dear White People,” a satire on racial issues on college campuses. Following the movie there will be a discussion about what racism looks like on the Maryville College campus and how to combat that racism.

“I think the entire campus cam benefit from a raised level of consciousness about these issues and even people who think that they’re not racist and they’re not part of the problem need to step up and learn more about these issues,” Johnson said.

Anyone interested in participating in PSA’s series on racial justice should visit the Maryville College Progressive Student Alliance Facebook page. In addition, anyone looking to get more involved with the PSA should contact Virginia Johnson at [email protected].

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