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Sheri Balsam

Black professionals gathered in the Rechler Conference Room ofthe Lavin-Bernick Center Feb. 7 for a panel that addressed growingup facing adversity, working to overcome it, tolerance and theduality black people face in society.

The Office of Multicultural Affairs held the panel for itsannual My Black is Beautiful program.

Jerica Kelley, a first-year MBA student at Tulane, organizedthis semester’s event.

“In the past, My Black is Beautiful has been low scale, but thisyear, we worked on advertising it more and making it grow,attracting a diverse group of professionals to speak on the panel,”Kelley said. “We wanted it held during black history month, and itwas such a success.”

The presentation included a slideshow featuring different topicsfor discussion. Many of these topics sparked debate throughout theroom. One audience member asked if anyone on the panel felt therewas a duality they experienced in their life or career by beingblack.

“African-Americans embrace religion because of the resistancethat you feel in the world against you,” said Debra B. Morton,pastor of the Greater St. Stephen Full Gospel Baptist Church in NewOrleans. “Religion is a release from that feeling ofresistance.”

A few of the panel members agreed that it is difficult forblacks to be their authentic selves in society. Many audiencemembers took part in a conversation about how they often hide whothey are in order to be part of the larger “white” community.

“At Michigan, I always felt like I had to prove I deserved to bethere,” said Jamila Jeffrey, recent University of Michigangraduate. “It’s a predominantly white school, and everyone believed[I was there] because of affirmative action, which most people hadmisconceptions about anyway.”

Topics that raised the most discussion were whether shadismplays a role in black relationships and mate selection and whetherthe media features lighter skinned black women more prominently,and why that is. The audience and panel watched a video clip inwhich a black 4-year-old girl said she wanted to be white becauseshe thought that white was prettier.

“We tend to like what looks like ourselves, but there’s an issuewhen you begin to hate what looks like you,” Morton said.