Diversity speaker connects race, technology

Diversity speaker connects race, technology

An African American studies professor from St. Louis University spoke to Bradley students, faculty and staff and Peoria community members about the intersection of race with modern technology last night in Cullom-Davis Library.

In his speech “From Jena to Ferguson and Beyond: Blackness and Black Politicals in the Age of the Internet,” Jonathan Smith discussed social media’s role in the Black Lives Matter activist movement.

“There are all these black cases, and all of them have something to do with black bodies getting out of place,” Smith said. “What happens now when I take this technology and make my body visible and present anytime, anywhere [and] to anybody?”

Smith also explained how social media helps mobilize the movement while revealing episodes of violence and discrimination.

“Incidents that used to be completely invisible to us are now becoming increasingly visible,” Smith said.

Junior public relations major Courtny Svendsen said she learns about social media within her major, but had never thought about its capabilities in this way.

“I know race is a huge issue right now, and social media obviously is prevalent not only in my major, but everywhere, and I never thought about intertwining the two because it’s not something that’s ever been brought up in my classes,” Svendsen said.

Anthropology professor Jill Wightman said she appreciates how Smith delivered the speech at a high educational level.

“[It] is good for the students to ask them to connect the dots themselves and think about some of these issues,” Wightman said.

Wightman also said she valued Smith’s arguments about how technology changes the way we perceive race.

“When we have technologies that allow people to take up virtual space, to make themselves seen by other populations in an instant or anywhere in the world, then we can start to break down boundaries,” Smith said.


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