Newswise — The protests that galvanized the country following the May 25 death of George Floyd thrust the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement into the spotlight. They’ve also inspired more conversations about police brutality and other aspects of racism that seep into everyday life.
While the highly publicized shootings of Black individuals, including unarmed teenagers Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, within the past 10 years have resulted in public condemnation, some say that support hasn’t been as long-lasting or as vocal as we’ve seen in 2020. A June 10 New York Times article noted that American voters’ support for the BLM movement increased over the past two weeks almost as much as it had in the preceding two years. And a Siena poll of registered state voters released June 30 showed more than 80 percent of New Yorkers believe that systemic racism in the United States is a very (51%) or somewhat (30%) serious problem.
Five Buffalo State College faculty members weighed in on the current race relations climate. They are Ron Stewart, chair and professor of sociology, who is the founder of Buffalo State’s African American Male Empowering Network (AAMEN), and the author of the book African American Husbands: A Study of Black Family Life, and four faculty members hired in 2019 and 2020 through SUNY’s Promoting Recruitment, Opportunity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Growth—or PRODI-G—initiative: Naila Ansari, assistant professor of theater and a professional dancer, whose work focuses on the “performance of joy” in marginalized communities through collections of oral histories, movement, performance, and film; Cameron Herman, assistant professor of sociology, whose research focuses on the ways marginalized groups experience and navigate inequality in urban environments; John Torrey, assistant professor of philosophy, whose research includes the role that social recognition has in moral and political deliberations to rectify injustices committed against African Americans; and Marcus Watson, assistant professor of Africana studies and individualized studies, whose research focuses on Africa and the African diaspora, with particular interest in South Africa, Ghana, the Afro Caribbean, and Black America. They all teach in the college’s new Africana studies program.