December 13, 2016

Discussion panel creates dialogue about black, single-parent households


By Briana Contreras

Students gathered in The Howard A. Mims African American Culture Center on Dec. 1 and 2 to share their feelings in an Umoja Round Table discussion of growing up in a black, single parent household.

The Umoja Round Table discussion — Umoja, the Swahili word for unity —  is one of the few programs in the African American Culture Center that allows Cleveland State students to engage in culturally specific discussions related to various careers.

Prester Pickett, M.F.A, coordinator of the Culture Center, said that the topics for discussion stem from ideas presented in various courses. Students are encouraged to share their views as a part of the discussion.

“Umoja Round Tables are where students bring a piece of the dish that has been served to them by our faculty and community,” Pickett said.

In the Dec. 1 discussion, not only did black students participate, but students of other races and ethnicities attended to listen and converse in the main topic shared throughout the round table.This topic focused on  growing up in a mainly black or diverse, single parent household. Students were either required to attend for extra credit by their professors or for work in the Black Studies program.

The main topic of the event was about how living in a black, single parent household shapes students from the black community.

They discussed how the media portrays black lives and how it can create more of a challenge for the students affected by these issues.

The relation between these issues is that without the father figure in some of the students’ lives, they can only look up to public figures, such as members of the black community, and react as those “role models” would.

“My area of expertise also often directs attention to the influences of popular culture and media, so some time was spent at this last round table with attention to social media, television, film and music as elements that represent or misrepresent black culture,” Pickett said. “Discussions like these are important to have because they engage more interaction. Since the late 80s, I have never seen CSU have an organization like this.”

Steve Sanders, a graduate student majoring in psychology, held most of the discussion. He brought a perspective for students by delving more into the topic and giving students advice if they have been influenced by the topic.

He also shared his story growing up in a black, single parent household.

“I grew up in the single parent lifestyle and grew [up] to have a father that was only a friend to me,” Sanders said. “With how I was treated or what I saw growing up without having that figure in my life, I decided I wanted to be more than that for my daughters. I want to reach my third degree not only for myself, but for my siblings also. What I went through as a child gives me the desire to do better.”



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