By Devon Martinez, Staff Writer

Every Friday, the Black Student Union (BSU) meets at the Centennial Campus to engage in dialogue on modern-day black issues in America, such as why exclusive groups like BSU exist, to Trayvon Martin’s tragic shooting, to Empire star Jussie Smollett faking his own hate crime.

The meeting began with a prompt for students to ponder and discuss. The question, “Why do people get uncomfortable about exclusive groups?” resulted in a multitude of different answers as the group attempted to find the truth to these questions.

Ultimately, the group decided that the existence of #Black Lives Matter (or any black group) doesn’t insinuate that other lives or groups don’t matter, and the majority believes communication needs to improve to ensure the conversation can exist in the first place.

The conversation moved on with a “This Day in Black History” segment which focused on February 26, 2012,  the day George Zimmerman fatally shot Trayvon Martin. The story went viral and Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder. The verdict of the case acquitted him due to Florida’s stand your ground laws.

Most of the class looked at this moment in history as grim and depressing. The gentlemen right next to me whispered under his breath, “He looks just like my son.”

At this moment the room went silent, the people who did talk covered everything that occurred on this day in detail. They discussed the facts surrounding Martin since some media outlets portrayed him as ‘thuggish’. The conversation ended with the Executive Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Keith Barnes detailing George Zimmerman’s version of the story, and his crimes prior to shooting Martin.

The topic that dominated the meeting is the Smollett case. In January he claimed he was attacked by two men in Chicago wearing MAGA hats. What looked like a vicious hate crime, is now proving to be staged, and Smollett is currently being indicted on 16 felony counts.

This case spawned passionate dialogue and honest conversations about hate crimes with the group dissecting every single part of this story. The group couldn’t pinpoint the exact reason why Smollett would do such a thing, there were several conspiracies on the reason why. One theory claimed that he did it to help the Democrats in 2020, another person claimed that he did it boost his career.

The one agreement in BSU is that Smollett’s action is going to devalue real hate crimes. Hate crimes exist, and now because of the media attention on this case, it will be harder to believe if the next hate crime is real or not. The damage done by Smollett is yet to be seen, but several people in BSU believe there is a road to redemption for him if he is open to it.

The meeting ended with an opening for anyone in the room to share a story in case something wasn’t brought up.

BSU members were open to talk and answer questions afterward, most people I spoke to were inviting and encouraged more people to experience a BSU meeting.

Chadwick McBride loves uncomfortable conversations, and that’s why he enjoys going to the weekly meetups. He invites Pikes Peak Community College students to join the discussion and “get outside of your box.” He said, “It’s all inclusive no one is excluded. We just talk about now issues, and 2019.”

Nikhaule Atkinson enjoys going to the weekly BSU meetings, because, she said, “It creates a diversity of opinions and ideas that are met in a commonplace.”

BSU member Haley Crawford thinks more students should check out BSU and visit their weekly meeting because the level of education makes the discussions interesting and meaningful. 

“Well, I think what Black Student Union group does is educate no matter what race or gender you are,” Crawford said. “I think education is the key to breaking down any sort of barriers that you have, racial barriers, gender barriers, and it’s a really safe place that anyone can come to.”

For more information on the BSU, email