Dr. Dyson talks racism and sexism at BC


Alexis Pedroza

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson discussing his experience as an author.

Alexis Pedroza, Reporter

Bakersfield College hosted distinguished speaker Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, who spoke to students in an open forum on Feb. 8. As a part of Black History Month the BC African-American Initiatives group here on campus teamed up with library department chair Kirk Russell in order to put together this cultural event, which took place in the fireside room at 11:15 a.m.

Many students and faculty were there to discuss Dyson’s new book “Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America” which tackles the issues of racism and continuous inequality in American Society today.

It addresses the growing intolerance with minorities, which according to Dyson is a topic that most Americans aren’t willing to talk about.

Dyson quickly broke the ice with a couple of jokes and cultural references, which included rapping lyrics from Tupac Shakur and even quoting Cardi B. The students enjoyed his ability to keep up with the modern trends and the faculty related to his references from past iconic shows like “The Jetsons.”

“We’re living in interesting times, the very notion of a safe space is under attack right now especially here in California,” Dyson said. He referred to the Dreamers who are under the Daca Act and how they are facing hardship under this current presidential administration.

He then made a transition to his book and the feedback he receives from readers, which come from both fans and people who strongly disagree with his viewpoint.

Later, students were able to ask questions regarding the book and his experiences in education.

He mentioned that he did not start his college education until he was 20 years old and worked his way up to top universities such as Princeton where he was a graduate student. He also talked about his experiences as a professor and how it enabled him to grow as an intellectual and author.

The discussion came to an end, but was later followed up by another one at 2 p.m. This time around Dr. Dyson geared the open forum towards xenophobia (the fear of foreigners) and its current state.

“I wish there was less xenophobia,” Dyson said.

He mentioned the importance of people coming together in order to create a better future for our children as well as a fair one.

Continuing on the discussion Dyson brought of the issue of offensive word usage in today’s society by saying, “Everyone should have common sense”.

He also presented a humorous example of it by reminding the audience that they wouldn’t talk to their mother the same way they talk to their friends.

“You’ll know that is not the woman to be tested, everybody knows when they can and can’t apply words,” Dyson said.

As the forum ended host Kirk Russell thanked Dr. Dyson for his visit to Bakersfield College and so did the audience.

Afterwards, there was a book signing and fans of Dyson’s books had the chance to get an autograph. His final Presentation took place at BC’s indoor theater at 7 p.m., where he spoke about the civil rights movement throughout the years.