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The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

SF State hosts first annual BLM forum

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Alex Drew
Shanice Robinson, her niece and son, Tiffany Knuckles, Tachelle Herron Lane, and Danielle Tompkins, who organized Soul of SF to channel the voices and experiences of Black students, staff and community members of SF, stand in front of the Ethnic Studies and Psychology building at SF State in San Francisco, on Nov. 21, 2020. (Alex Drew / Golden Gate Xpress)

“The Soul of San Francisco State University” — SF State’s first annual Black Lives Matter forum — was virtually held on Nov. 21.

The U.S. has been the focal point of civil unrest in 2020 — sparking protests across the globe — following several police killings of black individuals, reinvigorated by President Donald Trump’s stance on police violence. The university’s Zoom event was held in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement started with the founding of #BlackLivesMatter in 2013.

Tiffany Knuckles, SF State alum from the Graduate College of Educations, shared the virtual event’s goals: to channel the voices and experiences of Black students, staff and community members of SF State; to “develop a community generated list of ideas and strategies to create meaningful and impactful change on the SF State campus”; and “to uplift the Black souls of San Francisco State and beyond.”

“The Soul of San Francisco State is an event planned to honor and support our commitment to the San Francisco State University black community and the Black Lives Matter movement,” Dr. Doris Flowers, chair of the Department of Equity, Leadership Studies and Instructional Technologies, said in her opening remarks. “We want to encourage San Francisco State University to be intentional in creating an atmosphere for Black students, Black faculty [and] Black staff that is welcoming and offers a sense of belonging in higher education and at San Francisco State University.”  

Undergraduate Admissions and Recruitment Coordinator Sha’Nice Robinson was the key organizer of the event and put together a planning committee to plan the event. Dr. Flowers was accompanied by Dr. Kenneth Monteiro, professor and former dean of the Ethnic Studies department, as key faculty advisors. Tachelle Herron Lane, graduate from the College of Education and Liberal Studies, also helped put the event together.

“Back in June 2020, following the murder of George Floyd, President Mahoney commissioned a cabinet to start thinking about a Black lives at San Francisco State initiative to be attentive to Black Lives Matter issues, community and on campus, and to bring attention to the status of Black people on campus,” Equity & Community Inclusion Assistant Vice President Frederick Smith said.

A statement from the Office of the President lists the actions that the Black Lives at SF State initiative commits to, as mentioned by Smith during the event. 

All participants in attendance were sent to separate breakout rooms for a portion of the event to converse and express themselves and their thoughts on how to “better the campus climate for black faculty, staff and students,” according to Robinson. Each breakout room was led by one of nine panelists, consisting of faculty, staff, and alumni. 

District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton was also in attendance and updated the participants on the city’s initiatives to tend to the needs of people of color of San Francisco. He mentioned the Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies Act, more commonly referred to as the CAREN Act, which was passed following Walton’s introduction of the ordinance in July.

“What that does is make sure that if folks are going to arbitrarily call police to weaponize them, because of racist views or because of prejudices, or because of their discriminatory beliefs, they’ll be held accountable,” Walton said. He added that suspects could face fines starting at least $1,000 if a racist police call leads to harm of someone. 

Walton added that $120 million from San Francisco’s budget would be redirected from the San Francisco Police Department “to invest in the Black community.” He said, “the community identified what areas they wanted to see that investment being in and so they chose home ownership, economic justice, education, and a couple of other areas to make sure that we do everything we can to increase positive outcomes for Black folks.”

Robinson said that SF State has laid the blueprint for every other university in the California State University system, in terms of being a social justice-oriented school.

 “We have the first and only College of Ethnic Studies in the nation. Other CSU, UC communities, even private – they have a department, but they don’t have an academic college,” Robinson said. 

Students of SF State’s Step To College Program and of 100% College Prep, of which Herron-Lane is Associate program director, spoke of their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I am a part of the Black Lives Matter movement because just like Dr. King, I have a dream that my children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character, A’nayia Henry, a Step To College student, said. She added, “I Understand that this might take longer than my lifetime but we have to start somewhere.”

 

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated for accuracy. A previous version of this story portrayed Dr. Doris Flowers as the key organizer of the event.

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About the Contributors
Andres Velasquez as born-and-raised in San Francisco. Andres went to City College of San Francisco for two years before transferring to San Francisco State University in Fall 2019. He decided to pursue journalism after my first semester at CCSF with the intention of combining his talent for writing with his love of sports. His main interests are soccer, basketball and American football. During his time at CCSF Andres covered the school's women's tennis team for the second half the Spring 2017 semester for The Guardsman, CCSF's student publication. [email protected]  

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SF State hosts first annual BLM forum