Black Student Union concludes Black History Month with panel discussion

SUNY Oswego’s Black Student Union held a panel discussion Wednesday in conclusion of Black History Month about the usage of the ‘N’ word and how it portrays a negative image of the black community.

The panel theme was “Hashtag: Abolish the N-Word.” Presented by BSU, as well as the Oswego chapters of the National Association of Black Student Educators and the NAACP, the program was an open discussion on a word that is still readily used in today’s society.

“The ‘N’ word, the topic that we are discussing tonight, it takes away from the professionalism of the community,” Black Student Union President Justin Brantley said. “That’s why we definitely wanted to get this done before the end of the month was over.”

Brantley, along with other students, has been celebrating Black History Month with the expression “Sankofa Harambee,” Swahili for “honoring the past” and “unity.”

BSU kicked off celebrating Black History Month with the event “A Night of Spoken Word Featuring: Too Black” earlier in February. Brantley said the celebration of Black History Month was separated into two parts, with the first couple of weeks highlighting the history of African Americans.

“The second part of the month, Harambee, is more of a unity thing,” Brantley said. “To come together, we have to know the issues that we face once we leave these doors, once we are outside of SUNY Oswego.”

The discussion opened with Brantley and executive board members of the NABSE and NAACP defining the word, and then opening the floor to the students to say how they felt about the definitions. The presentation included mainstream hip-hop music from recording artist Nicki Minaj that heavily uses the racial slur, and a video interview between Oprah Winfrey and JAY Z where they discuss, and agree to disagree, on the usage of the word in music.

Students at SUNY Oswego joined in on the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #OswegoBSU.

The ‘N’ word is not only used in pop culture, as pointed out by a SUNY Oswego student, but it is also used in sports.

Brantley hopes the discussion can continue beyond Wednesday’s panel discussion through social media like Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #AbolishTheNWord. Log on to to view pictures and postings from throughout Black History Month, and to stay connected with future events put on by the organization.