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Speaker visits Ashland to speak on racial profiling

Chante Rutherford

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Ashland University welcomed speaker Dr. Ronnie A. Dunn, Director of Institutional Diversity and Associate Professor of Urban Studies at Cleveland State University to present his series called; Racial Profiling: The Content of Their Character or the Color of Their Skin?

Dunn ended the day of celebration for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as the whole morning and afternoon were filled with opportunities to volunteer. Many from AU’s campus and the Ashland area were in attendance.

Prior to Dunn’s speech, A.U.G.I.V.S. hosted a day of service with the Oxfam Hunger Banquet.

Those students who volunteered were educated to raise awareness about those who suffer from lack of food. After, over 75 boxes were made to send to senior citizens in need.

Kyle Hutchinson, Executive Board Member of A.U.G.I.V.S. spoke about how the volunteers were able to understand how people who rely on services such as Meals On Wheels.

Those who had low income were sat on the floor and were given rice and water. People in the middle class were given chairs and served rice, beans, and water. Finally, the upper class was given tables to sit at and served spaghetti, meatballs, and water. This exposed volunteers who have never dealt with a hunger to the harsh realities.

The boxes that were given out were donated by the Ashland Salvation Army Kroc Center in Ashland.

“When the weather is rough, that is when our boxes step in to feed the seniors,” Hutchinson said.

The boxes are filled with items such as nonfat milk, canned fruit, and canned vegetables.

The next speaker was senior and Diversity Intern Ariana Graves who spoke on the growth of diversity on Ashland’s campus.

“Here at Ashland University, I still fight for the same things that Dr. King fought for,” Graves said. “He made it possible for us to be in the same chapel today.”

Graves feels honored to have the support of the Ashland community to continue the strive for growth in diversity, she said.

“At Ashland, I do not have to face the same hatred, the same violence and the same negativity that he went through,” Graves said.

Graves wants to connect outward to minorities and hope they come to Ashland, she said.

“We want to create a safe space for students of color,” Graves said.

Graves mentioned how Diversity is still in the process of bringing Black Greek organizations into the AU’s campus soon.

Dunn was the last speaker of the night.

Even though it was Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 21 also held another significance as well, he said.

“Yes, we celebrate the legacy of Dr. King. This day also marks the first documented Africans to land on American soil in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619 over 400 years ago,” Dunn said. “20 Africans, through the Atlantic Slave trade were sent to America while others were sent to Brazil, France and Britain.”

The minority population has always struggled with authority, he said.

“From slavery into the 20th century, the minority population has had a long struggle with authority, especially during the Civil Rights Era,” Dunn said.

One of Dunn’s focuses during the speech was based around a cop and human interaction since that is the most common interaction with civilians.

“As the 1980s came, so did the crackdown on blacks being targeted and arrested during the war on drugs era lead by former President Ronald Reagan,” Dunn said. “There was also an increase in blacks and Hispanics getting pulled over. More minorities were added once Sept. 11th came and Muslims and Arabs were now being targeted.”

Even though there aren’t that many African Americans in the U.S. population, a disproportionate amount are incarcerated, he said.

“Though only 2.3 percent of African Americans make up the U.S. population, 33 percent are incarcerated,” Dunn said. “In prisons, 34 percent are in due to a drug arrest. 53 percent are in for convictions and 63 percent are repeat offenders.”

For his main topic, Dunn shared with the attendees the most common interaction that civilians have with officers: traffic stops.

Dunn said experts at Cleveland State looked at four major areas in Northern Ohio. These areas were Cleveland, Shaker Heights, Westlake and Brook Park.

Cleveland and Shaker Heights are seen as more diverse than the areas of Westlake and Brook Park, Dunn said.

From ride alongs with The Cleveland Police Department to analyzing traffic tickets along with the population in each area, the experiment broke down each area and who were ticketed based on race.

The question that arose from this was: “Are minorities heavily surveillanced during traffic?”

“From the totals in each area, blacks are more likely to be stopped and given a ticket. In a population of 83,123 blacks share 53 percent of the tickets, whites share 33 percent,” Dunn said. “Other minorities only share 7.51 percent of tickets,”

Even during this time, racism is still common everywhere, he said.

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