Docuseries shed impactful light on injustice

By Ali Qazi

The Office of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Center for Black Studies are hosting “Trayvon Martin Rest in Power,” every Tuesday through March 5, to pay tribute to Trayvon Martin for Black History month, providing a great opportunity for students to honor the life of Martin and understand how to combat systemic racism, delivering a positive impact on campus.

The docuseries focuses on the controversy that surrounded the death of Martin, who was a 17-year-old, unarmed African-American teenager fatally shot in Sanford, Florida, Feb. 26, 2012. By hosting this event, the office of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Center for Black Studies are helping create a safe place to have a dialogue regarding this tragedy, as well as allowing students and the public to learn more about the case.

“Events [like these] encourage people to engage more deeply with issues related to identity and experiences not only on campus but also beyond,” Joseph Flynn, associate director of the Center for Black Studies, said.

Not only does hosting the docuseries help educate students, it also helps combat systemic racism by spreading awareness and providing discussion on how to prevent situations like this from happening.

Overall, this event is a great place to come together and understand what happened not only to Martin but all those who were affected.

“Last year, we were able to do a screening about the Kalief Browder story,” Melanie Sandoval, graduate research assistant of the Office of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, said. “[It’s] a similar setup, so we wanted to go ahead and continue the conversation. We come to talk about injustice and systematic inequalities we see within our communities. I think being able to talk about Martin was very important, considering the media attention Martin has [gotten].”

Students and staff are watching the docuseries for the first time and are able to learn new things. The docuseries shows prevention methods for wrongful deaths and loss of innocent lives.

The Office of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Center for Black Studies are doing a great service to NIU, and this event should set a precedent to host similar events. Doing so will help honor Martin and Black History Month, and will help further educate people.

“I think movies screenings are a good segway for difficult conversations.” Betti Madison, graduate research assistant of Center for Black Studies, said. “They are a very easy tool to bring people to one space.I think it’s very important to foster these types of environments in an academic setting where we say that diversity is something that we uphold, and by having these events it allows for that to happen.”

If this docuseries wasn’t being played in a university setting and students were not able to share their thoughts or concerns about the episodes this could have had a less of an impact. After each episode there is a raffle, food and students are able to ask questions in regards to the docuseries or in regards to the injustices happening in real time such as cases that are in the news like Laquan McDonald.

“I have learned so much,”  Gaddys Ybarra, graduate student of early childhood education, said. “I can’t imagine what I would have learned [from the other episodes] regarding the trial and how they selected the jury. This was a big eye opener, and we don’t realize these things until they happen to us personally but once it does then that’s when we want to get involved.”

The outcome of showing this screening helps bring a diverse student base who are able to comfortably learn together, ask questions and implement a tighter bond amongst each other.

The Office of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion welcome all students to come to their free screening of “Trayvon Martin Rest in Power” while enjoying  a slice of pizza and a chance to win raffle prizes.