By: Megan Rose Dickey
The Sigma Eta Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta and the Samford Athletics Council for Equality (ACE) co-hosted a discussion event titled “Brain Dump” Wednesday, Nov. 4 via Zoom. This was an event convened to allow students to “air out” concerns, grievances and general frustrations with life in the midst of the pandemic and racial justice issues.
ACE was recently founded to spread awareness and advocacy for social justice around Samford’s campus.
“A place where student athletes can be heard and felt,” ACE Vice President Joshua Long said, when describing the group.
He described ACE as a way to check and balance their peers, professors, advisors, administrators and other faculty members.
Courtney Shields, a professional counselor, also joined the Zoom call. She is also an alumna of Alpha Kappa Alpha, another National Pan-Hellenic Sorority alongside Delta Sigma Theta. Shields works with adolescents, couples, and families.
Raven Omar, the president of the Sigma Eta Chapter on campus, led the discussion. She first asked about self-care.
“(Self-care is) a necessity and priority and a prerequisite for helping others,” Delta Sigma Theta member Chots Holifield said.
Then, the topic of social media was brought up and whether it is healthy or toxic.
“For some people, social media is a part of their identities,” ACE community engagement chair Chris Oladokun said.
Nelson Jordan, Samford’s Ransom U leader, discussed the toxicity of the prevalence of violence and seeing videos of fellow black men killed on social media. He discussed how “it is important to love your neighbor as yourself,” but social media is a hard way to do so.
From this conversation, the recent events concerning police brutality and racism were introduced to the discussion.
“One thing I have tried to focus on during these times is my empathy,” student Natalie Armstrong said.
ACE member Emmanuel Tait said, “living in this skin is exhausting,” when talking about his experiences as a black man living in a predominantly white area.
Shields talked about the difficulties of both the pandemic and prevalence of racial violence.
“The sooner that we accept the new normal and the realities of what is happening right now, the sooner we will be able to adjust,” Shields said.
However, she also emphasized how we must become comfortable with ourselves and not let others’ discomfort dictate our own behaviors. She added,
“Do not harbor other people’s discomfort,” Shields added.
Student Morayo Bhadmos agreed.
“I have become okay with making people uncomfortable and giving them the truth,” Bhadmos, a senior, said.
Shields also spoke to the importance of personal relationships during this difficult time.
“I focus on those personal relationships. Through individual relationships we can create change,” Shields said.