In the News | Three Rivers panel analyzes history of racism

Norwich, CT (Norwich Bulletin, September 26, 2017) — In the wake of violent protests and tweeting scandals, students and faculty of Three Rivers Community College gathered Tuesday evening for a forum on race in America. Although originally intended to analyze the cultural symbolism of the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, a new theme quickly emerged: History repeats itself.

The panel, comprising state Sen. Cathy Osten, Three Rivers professors Janet Hagen and Roxanne Tisch and student Jason Chavez, was moderated by Edward Derr, the college’s student diversity and Title IX adviser. Derr has been organizing forums on cultural issues for seven years at the college, and Tuesday night’s event was part one of a two-part installment called “Is Hatred and Violence the New Norm.”

Three Rivers Forum

Edward, Derr, a professor at Three Rivers Community College, leads a forum titled “Is Hatred and Violence the New Norm?” Tuesday at the Norwich college. Behind him are panelists Jason Chavez, a student at the college, Roxanne Tisch, a math professor there, and state Sen. Cathy Osten. See videos at NorwichBulletin.com (John Shishmanian/Norwich Bulletin)

Derr kicked off the evening with a short presentation relating current events to past ones. He aligned photographs of Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback who raised eyebrows while kneeling during the national snthem, alongside Tommie Smith and John Carlos, athletes whose medals were revoked after raising their fists from the Olympic podiums in 1968.

“Issues like this never truly go away. It’s 2017 but it may as well be 1968,” Derr said.

If a historic theme wasn’t apparent early on, it definitely became evident once the panel tackled the opioid crisis, which has hit Eastern Connecticut particularly hard. Osten traced the issue through previous decades, referencing her tenure in the state Department of Correction.

“This is something that is not new. The opioid crisis had been a problem in urban areas for years. However, now it has migrated into suburbs and rural areas and it’s garnering much more attention. It’s not until now that so many people have begun to ask ‘what should we do about this?’ ”

Although waters were bound to be muddied when discussing hot-button issues, everyone in the room seemed to agree on one thing.

“These conversations should be happening everywhere,” Hagen said.

Preceding the event, Derr, a professor of history and sociology, said he received emails from students concerned that hosting the forum would “only make things worse” and “aggravate what’s already a sensitive situation.” However, with coming forums planned on immigration and women’s leadership, Derr said any level of backlash does not deter him from planning such events.

“What scares me most is that people will bury their heads in the sand and not talk about difficult issues. Discussion is what can make things better.”

 

— By Stephanie Menders, Norwich Bulletin staff writer

The original article can be found here: ‘Three Rivers panel analyzes history of racism’

Videos of the event can be found here: 

Video 1, posted September 26

Video 2, posted September 26

Video 3, posted September 26

Video 4, posted September 26

Video 5, posted September 26

Video 6, posted September 26

Video 7, posted September 29 

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