It was meant to be an eye-opening, educational panel, where panelists would talk about the Black immigrant experience with their audience, comprised of students from the Brigham Young University.
However, following the panel discussion, when the field was opened up for audience questions, the Black History month event turned sour.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the audience at the event which occurred earlier this month could send in questions, anonymously, via their phones. The questions would then pop up for everyone to see.
The questions, however, did not help progress the conversation any further and instead were filled with racist stereotypes and commentary.
“What is the percentage of African Americans on food stamps?”
“Why do African Americans hate the police?”
“Why don’t we have any white people on stage?”
According to the Tribune, the uncalled for questions caused some in the majority white audience to laugh.
However, the Black students there, and the university itself are far from laughing.
“The fact that the people made the effort to come to the panel and attack us is disgusting and honestly a waste of time,” Tendela Tellas, a sophomore at BYU who spoke at the event and whose mother is an immigrant from the Democratic Republic of the Congo told the news site. “I honestly don’t know how BYU can stop this again, but there needs to be a solution.”
The university swiftly reacted the following day, tweeting out a statement reading “We reaffirm BYU’s stance of condemning racism in any form. We are committed to promoting a culture of safety, kindness, respect and love.”
The university went on to tweet that faculty advisors from the event were creating a report of the incident, that would be shared with administrators.
As for the culprits, the university said that they were unable to figure out the identities of those who sent in the hurtful, racist comment, or if they were even students at the university or not, however, the university promised to “continue to address” these “important issues” as a campus.
However, some students remain unconvinced, noting that BYU, which is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has had worst cases that occur on campus.
“I don’t like giving these bigots a platform,” Grace Soelberg, another student told the Tribune, “but I feel it’s necessary to show that racism is still holding strong in this world and in the LDS Church, and turning a blind eye to it and sweeping it under the rug is only going to make it worse.”