WRITTEN BY: TAYLOR ALLEN
On Tuesday, October 4, Temple University held a panel titled “Race in the Race,” featuring leaders from student organizations shedding a new light on the junction of ethnicity and politics.
This was Temple’s first “Race in the Race” panel that has taken place in an election with no black presidential candidate. Therefore, the students and moderators had to dissect the subtleties of how race is affecting this year’s presidential election.
The night began with a question-and-answer session with Senator Vincent Hughes, who represents the 7th district. His district includes portions of both Philadelphia and Montgomery County.
A common theme Hughes brought up was civic engagement.
“Make sure you vote, and not just during presidential election years,” Hughes said. “To make a real difference, you must engage.”
After Senator Hughes spoke, it was time to listen to the student organization leaders.
Although neither candidate for president is a minority, both candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, been scrutinized for using speech that includes racist connotations. Clinton has been criticized for referring to black people as “super predators” when the 1994 Crime Bill was coming into effect. Trump is routinely condemned for using hateful rhetoric, especially in relation to Muslims, and immigrants. Specifically, he was heard calling some Mexican undocumented immigrants rapists last year.
Karen Turner, a professor of journalism at Temple, was one of the event’s moderators.
“How are race issues being covered in the media?” Turner asked. “What are the candidates saying, if they are saying anything at all? These must be discussed.”
Jordan Laslett, a student leader representing the Temple College Democrats, rationalized that race still matters in this presidential race because recent events continue to make race relevant.
“This is a diverse university so we have to talk about it,” Laslett said. “The election themes include Black Lives Matter, immigration, etc. Not talking about it would be a disservice.”
In full disclosure, the Temple Republicans did not have representation at this panel.
No one among the student panelists talked about his or her support for a particular candidate. Most spoke to their dissatisfaction of both Clinton and Trump, but all agreed that they would still vote in the upcoming election.
Nayo Jones, a student representative of Babel Poetry Collective, commented on how minorities, specifically young black people, have trouble trusting either candidate.
“Both mainstream candidates don’t have a connection with young black kids,” Jones said. “Trump has hateful rhetoric and Clinton has the legacy of the Crime Bill that has negatively affected the black community. It’s difficult to believe that voting for either candidate will yield anything positive.”
The night ended with students talking about their own experiences with race and if they feel as if either candidate is speaking to the millennial vote. No one on that panel expressed that their voices were being accurately heard.
Another student panel will be organized after the election on November 8.