A group of about two dozen students and university faculty gathered at Waring Commons on Tuesday evening for the inaugural State of the Black Male discussion put on the by the Delta Theta chapter of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.
For Robert Jenkins, it was an opportunity for him to express his views, which he said are often differing from others’ opinions.
“Being at Penn State, there are not a lot of different minorities,” Jenkins (senior-psychology) said. “[The discussion] is a good place to meet people and a have spirited discussion.”
Jeremy Jordan, the vice president of the fraternity, said this was the first year for the program and it aids in the discussion of advancement issues black males face in society today.
The program utilized small discussion groups with each focusing on an official topic, but the discussion was not mere small talk.
In the “Family and Relationships” discussion group, the idea of dating was brought up, but one group moderator asked if any group members have dated outside their race. Two group members said they had dated outside their race.
Hamilton Martin was one of them.
But he said race isn't as big of a factor as people think.
“Be with someone who makes you better,” Martin (graduate-law) said in the discussion. “Black, white, green, purple, a good woman is a good woman.”
In the “Hip Hop and Social Media” group, Curt Marshall, who was moderating the group, asked for some popular artists of today and then asked what is motivating about them.
Donald Mitchell (junior-kinesiology) said Nas motivates him because he “sheds light on society issues.”
Terrance Dowell (junior-security and risk analysis), another group member, said Prince Ea, a rapper, motivates him because he graduated from college and holds a degree in anthropology.
Other discussion groups were named “Educate and Elevate,” “Putting Black at the Top,” which focused on self-improvement, and “The Manhood Test,” which focused on defining the role of a man, said Jordan (senior-health policy and administration).
These discussions went on for an about an hour covering different issues as the conversation took different directions.
Finally, the large group came together and shared the major highlights from the small group discussions.
Here, all the small group moderators led to a large discussion where students could voice opinions on topics discussed in a particular small group they were not in.
Marshall, who is the coordinator of multicultural programs for the College of Arts and Architecture, said the discussion provides a unique opportunity for two generations of black males to come together.
“We have two different cultural norms, the older black generation and the younger black generation, both with different cultural backgrounds,” Marshall said.
As for the issues black males face in society, Jenkins said he has to be more aware of his actions.
“I can’t do anymore to stick out than I already do,” Jenkins said.