Students speak out in open discussion, offer thoughts on viral video

More than 100 students joined Friday's forum on the issues of race and identity at Syracuse University.

Taryne Chatman admitted he sometimes has trouble saying exactly what he wants to say. But when he tried to come to terms with the hate speech heard in a viral video circulating across campus, he was left speechless. That is -- until he turned his thoughts into poetry.

"I mean you know it's spelled. Starts with an 'N' ends with 'er.' Man-made manifestations that remind us, that our history ain't too far," Chatman recited.

The political philosophy studies freshman addressed issues of hate speech at Syracuse University and violence against the Black community in his slam poetry piece, audience members snapping their fingers in unison to signal their agreement.

“We all have to wake ourselves up,” Chatman said. “It’s not just about society’s responsibility, but it’s on us to speak up about hate speech and slurs that we hear on a daily basis.”

Chatman and many others at Friday’s forum in Grant Auditorium discussed their reactions to an Instagram video that went viral last weekend, in which Syracuse University soccer player Hanna Strong is heard using racist and homophobic slurs.

The forum, organized by the SU chapter of the NAACP in response to the viral video, attracted just over 100 students of differing beliefs and backgrounds.

“We are excited that this dialogue could be had with such a large portion of the SU community,” said SU’s NAACP vice president Olivia Johnson. “And we are excited about who came. We saw all walks of life here, a truly diverse group. Now, we have to keep that momentum going.”

In fact, the discussion continued for an extra hour as no shortage of students stepped up to the microphone to voice their opinions.

“We’re talking about it now because someone got caught, but these slurs are a part of our everyday speech today,” said communications design senior Derrick Horn. “Somehow, people think they are okay to say. We need to step up and tell our friends and hold them accountable.”

Group organizers encouraged an intersectional discussion that touched upon issues beyond racism. The focus shifting quickly away from Strong, as students addressed the use of slurs across campus.

“This isn’t just about racism. There was a homophobic slur too,” said sport management junior Angela Diaz and a member of the Pride Union executive board. “This issue is intersectional. We shouldn’t have to split this discussion based on identity, and I think we helped unite that conversation here.

NAACP members passed out flyers with its recommended ground rules for the forum discussion. The rules encouraged attendees to speak from their own point of view rather than as a member of a specific race or ethnicity. Johnson said this was an effort to help foster an all-inclusive discussion. The flyers also asked students to voice their opinions on social media using the NAACP promoted hashtag, #SpeakUpSU, and the campus wide hashtag, #ITooAmSU.

Discussions ranged from the casual use of racial and homophobic slurs in everyday speech to possible courses of action and solutions that students can push to help educate the student body and the surrounding community.

One speaker addressed the absence of upper level SU administration, including Chancellor Kent Syverud. According to SU’s Student Association, another forum is in the works that will likely involve the greater campus community.

Johnson said she hopes the conversation surrounding hate speech continues to gain traction and prompts future discussions among students.

“This conversation needs to keep going beyond this forum,” said biology sophomore Hilda De Los Santos. “When we leave these doors, this discussion shouldn’t stop. It needs to keep going beyond these walls, and it’s our job to keep pushing this conversation forward.”

Sorry Angela!

Hi, Angela! Thank you for catching that mistake. I have corrected the fact error.

Sorry again!

It is Sport Management and

It is Sport Management and I'm a Junior, not a Freshman.

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