NEW BRITAIN – Students at Central Connecticut State University joined hundreds of institutions across the country Thursday in recognizing the third annual Stand Against Racism event.
The event, which is sponsored by the YWCA of the USA, is designed to educate and inspire people to become civically involved and speak up when they see racism. This year’s daylong event emphasized the intersection of racism, urban development and community trauma.
The third annual Stand Against Racism event at CCSU ended with a panel discussion featuring students. The panel answered several questions and gave their thoughts on urban renewal, gentrification and inner-city life.
One question asked if urban renewal projects successfully implement diversification efforts. Shelby Williams, a CCSU junior, said minority communities are often an afterthought when it comes to projects in cities.
“It’s often times that in the application of urban revitalization that minority communities and people of color and their businesses suffer the most,” Williams said.
Kaitlin Binnington shared similar sentiments as Williams, adding that investments in low-income communities don’t always address the needs of its people.
“It (urban investment) wasn’t looking to do what the people who lived in the cities needed, it was looking to help do what the out of state lenders and the out of state representatives wanted,” Binnington said of the perceived misguided intentions of historic urban renewal.
When discussing the job market expansion on low-income neighborhoods, Williams again emphasized that residents of these communities are often not taken into account when economic development strategies are created.
“I think that there should be financial favorability to low-income residents as well as black and brown businesses so that they are able to accumulate wealth within their own communities,” Williams said.
Some members of the panel had differing views when it comes to government involvement in urban renewal and revitalization. Senior Kelly Turner said he thinks less control from the government. Turner said involvement from non-profits and other community organizations can often help turn cities around rather than legislators.
“A community will always respond better when they’re given an opportunity to prove they can do something,” Turner said.
Going off of Turner’s comments, senior Brendan Kruh spoke about the potential negatives of eminent domain. Eminent domain is the right of governments to take private property for public use in exchange for payment.
“Who is that eminent domain going to be helping? Is it helping the community which wants to acquire that hand so it could gentrify it, or it is going to be helping the community which is already living there?” Kruh said.
Earlier in the day, two professors gave presentations related to the event.
Professor Sylvia Jalil Gutierrez gave an oral presentation about 20th century urban renewal in the city. The Anthropology professor discussed segregation and displacement in New Britain and explained how redlining, urban renewal and highway construction have affected residents.
Dr. Mindy Thompson Fullilove, a Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Public Health at Columbia University and a board-certified research psychiatrist at New York State Psychiatric Institute, served as the event’s keynote speaker. Fullilove’s presentation addressed the intersection between trauma, health disparities and urban development.
Skyler Frazer can be reached at 860-801-5087 or by email at email@example.com.