Black students condemn racist questions at event
Carol Ozemhoya | OW Contributor | 2/11/2020, 5:08 p.m.
They had just explained what it meant to each of them to be Black and an immigrant. Then the five panelists at a Brigham Young University event sat quietly as they waited for the audience questions to come in, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. Anyone in the crowd could send one by typing it into their phone on the event page. And each time someone did, an anonymous question would pop up for everyone to see. The screen was quickly filled. “What is the percentage of African Americans on food stamps?” “Why do African Americans hate the police?” “Why don’t we have any White people on stage?” Some in the largely White audience laughed. Those on the panel did not. “The fact that the people made the effort to come to the panel and attack us is disgusting and honestly a waste of time,” said Tendela Tellas, a sophomore at BYU who spoke at the event and whose mom immigrated from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “I honestly don’t know how BYU can stop this again, but there needs to be a solution.” The other panelists at Thursday’s event and some Black students at the Provo school have since similarly called out the racist questions. One Black student said she went home and cried after seeing what was asked. Another said she no longer has the emotional stamina to deal with the “ignorant, racist, privileged folks” on campus. The following day, Brigham Young University formally condemned the comments. In a statement, school officials said it is committed to “promoting a culture of safety, kindness, respect and love.” It noted: “Faculty advisers over last night’s panel are creating a report of the incident that will be shared and discussed with university administrators. We are unable to determine the identities of the commenters, and if they are BYU students or not, but regardless, these are important issues for us to continue to address as a campus.”