Missed the hottest event of the weekend? We've got you covered on all that went down.
This past Saturday, University Union worked together with the National Pan-Hellenic Council and Student Association to bring a panel of guest speakers to discuss the issues of social justice. Among those speakers were our very own Student Association Vice President Angie Pati and Director of the Bandier program Bill Werde, and most notably, Joey Bada$$ and Yara Shahidi, both established artists in their respective fields.
The panel was moderated by Dr. Don C. Sawyer, an alumni of Syracuse University and current Interim Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer at Quinnipiac University. As the audience settled down, the panelists were introduced and then the first question was asked: How do you define social justice?
It’s a heavy-loaded question but the panelists were not afraid to dive right into it. Joey Bada$$ promptly responded with, “I say I’m still trying to define it. I feel like it’s definitely a topic that needs a little bit more elaboration.” Shahidi followed up with an idea from an activist she admires, DeRay Mckesson, that emphasized that social justice is a “fight for equity.” Bill Werde spoke about social justice having an “external and internal definition.” The concept of equity fits into its definition externally, however, internally, he mentions, social justice is about “challenging ourselves to understand our own internal biases and blind spots to be able to see that external equity.” Angie Pati concluded the question with a definition that stuck with her: “It’s what faces you when you wake up in the morning.”
The following questions certainly created openings for engaging discussions on the panelists’ relationships with social justice, such as personal experiences with racial prejudices and the struggles of pursuing social justice in the modern world. Despite being a stage for serious conversations, the panel occasionally became lighthearted through Dr. Sawyer’s easy-going way of handling the flow of the dialogue, periodically inserting a few comical points here and there.
Joey Bada$$, although relatively reticent at first, became very much engaged when asked about his music. The audience was able to hear about the creative process behind the creation of his most recent album ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ as he stated that he was inspired by the police brutality against black men circa 2015. He felt “extremely responsible on how I could bring about awareness, bring about change.” As the topic of the role of media came about, he was passionate in his belief that “the media is extremely responsible for a lot of the divides that we see today in our society,” which caused a brief conflict with fellow panelist, Bill Werde, on the definition of media but nonetheless a fruitful conversation.
Yara Shahidi spoke up about her new role as a director for Refinery29’s short film series (Shatterbox Anthology), referring to the experience as a “new creative space.” She found that it was fun to be able to bring her vision to life and described her film possessing the narrative of “what it means to operate on a space that you don’t own or have no semblance of control over.”
As the panel wrapped up and neared its end, the audience was given a chance to ask their own questions for the speakers. After hearing about the viewpoints of the panelists, the audience was curious as to take on social justice for themselves and for the future’s sake. Everyone was quick to give advice to the eager minds and gave plenty of it. To sum it up, the panelists can all agree that the pursuit of social justice can be done by educating the youth and taking on the initiative of challenging yourself and taking baby steps.
Later that night, Joey shutdown Goldstein Auditorium with his performance. He did classics like "Waves" and "Survival Tactics" off his 1999 project and closed with a hype performance of "Devastated".