Jan 25, 2020
Sophie Karas and Renee Cromer taking a photo opportunity before the film starts.

Police brutality sparks conversation among students

A free movie showing and student reaction to “The Hate U Give” held at Maya Cinemas Fresno 16 recently brought forth conversation on police brutality.

The Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, the Henry Madden Library and the Cross Cultural and Gender Center worked collectively to provide students at Fresno State with a chance to see the new movie, which first released in theaters on Oct. 5.

Sophie Karas from Student Involvement and Renee Cromer from Student Affairs and Enrollment Management were partners in planning all the details of the event.

The event was sponsored by Dean Delritta Hornbuckle of Library Services and Dr. Francine Oputa who rented the theatre. Dr. Carolyn Coon, the dean of students, bought tickets, and Debora Adishian-Astone, vice president for administration and CFO, covered all the free concessions.

The film was about a young black girl named Starr who struggled to balance her two different worlds at a wealthy, mostly white prep school, and a poor, mostly black neighboorhood when she witnessed her childhood best friend get shot and killed by a police officer. Starr had to take on the burden of how both communities viewed the situation but ultimately had to voice her opinion and stand up for what is right.

Members who helped with the event handed out pens and paper to the audience and told them to write down questions or feelings they had about the movie. These questions were addressed after the movie in a student talk back.

Boxes of tissues were also handed out, and the audience was warned that some of the scenes may be too emotional and intense for some viewers. Because of this Dr. Travis Cronin, a social work professor, was at the movie to aid anyone who needed someone to talk to at any point.

During the student talkback, many faculty and students were members of the panel. There were multiple students on the panel who represented different organizations such as; Phi Beta Sigma, Alpha Phi Alpha, the Black Student Union, NAACP, Money Management and Onyx.

Law enforcement Sgt. Justin Bell from the Fresno Police Department was present on the panel and was the target of most of the students questions.

The film supported many themes such as community, belonging, bravery and family, but most of all the injustice of police brutality toward black communities. Many of these subjects are what spurred the Black Lives Matter movement.

The students started the discussion right after the movie, and the conversation led straight to police brutality and how black members and races of darker skin color in the community are being treated.

Bell was asked by TJ Ta’lon, “What should we be doing now so that our children don’t have to fear authority figures such as law enforcement when they are older?”

Bell replied by saying that black families should be teaching their children at young ages on how to act around authority so that they can protect themselves.

This safety tactic was exhibited in the movie, but that led the discussion to multiple students asking what they need to be doing, or rather what needs to be done so that black families don’t have to fear and have to teach their children ways to stay protected from authority figures.

The night ended after the talkback with the question being what needs to be done to make a change in the world so that people of darker skin color don’t have a disadvantage.

Oputa will be purchasing books for students to read together as a book club in the Harambee Room in Cross Cultural and Gender Center, and there will be a continued movie discussion Wednesday, Nov. 7, from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Vintage Room.

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