Sigma Lambda Upsilon ‘Red Table Talk’ spreads awareness about BLM and resources

The Black Lives Matter movement has become a catalyst for open discussions and acknowledgment of racial inequalities in America.  The movement spans nationwide and has resulted in many programs, protests and resources spearheaded by young adults.

Georgia State’s Alpha Pi chapter of Sigma Lambda Upsilon is one of the many local organizations that has worked towards facilitating open dialogue and lending support and resources to aid in the movement.

The chapter showcased their solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement through a “Red Table Talk” series. Alpha Pi president Yajaira Escobar spoke about the series’ online discussions on race-related issues alongside other local chapters from Kennesaw State and the University of Georgia.

“Instead of continuing with our previously scheduled events, we formed a series of open-ended educational discussions that provided our communities with a safe space to grow and learn, as well as an opportunity for people to continue the discussion outside of social media,” Escobar said.

The open-ended discussions featured in the series touched base on various topics and promoted outside resources that were helpful to donate to.

The organization promoted resources such as The Loveland Foundation, Lost-n-Found Youth and Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement. All sharing a common theme of fostering safe, judgment-free spaces.

Sigma Lambda Upsilon and its local chapters were adamant about using their platforms to educate and lend support. Alpha Pi Vice President Hayris Panchi discussed how they made sure to be conscious of how they went about conveying their messages without overstepping any boundaries surrounding these topics.

“Knowing the line between speaking out of turn and taking responsibility to do the work to combat the racial issues we were seeing and ensuring we never crossed that line, was an important way to navigate these topics as best we could,” Panchi said.

Navigating how to convey this information played a pivotal role in choosing guest speakers. Alpha Pi community service coordinator Andrea Gomez Aparicio explained that during the selection process, they focused on speakers that were knowledgeable on these topics and/or had first-hand experiences that best reflected what they intended throughout their initiative.

“For our guest speaker, we chose H. Stacy Rodriguez, an Afro-Latina activist whom we knew would offer a highly informed perspective based on her experience,” Gomez Aparicio said. “We also chose H. Yajaira Vanegas for her legal background at the Sonoda Law Firm and lastly H. Hayris Panchi because of her research experience in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology.”

Alpha Pi Secretary Isela Suarez-Perez believed that allowing these speakers and the audience to have an open dialogue was a significant contributor to their program’s success. Despite not having an in-person space, the organization was able to facilitate the discussion via Zoom.

“We used the Zoom Webinar feature. That allowed for a professional and controlled discussion where attendees only had to speak if they were comfortable,” Suarez-Perez said. “Because of the Webinar features, we were able to receive anonymous questions and input throughout the event.” 

Through the use of the Zoom online platform, attendees could respond in chat or video format to ensure that their voices were heard throughout the discussions.

“Our audience could interact through the chat feature and were also able to be part of the direct discussion. To finish it off, we had an interactive discussion where attendees shared personal anecdotes and asked for advice from our panelists,” Suarez-Perez said

The virtual space also allowed for a diverse audience that spanned beyond Georgia State, allowing participants from out-of-state colleges to attend.

Although having concluded the series, Alpha Pi Recruitment Coordinator Lilly Milani explained that the chapter still thinks it is crucial to utilize their space to serve as allies. 

“As of right now, the Red Table Talk series is complete, but we will not stop using our platform to spread awareness on important topics,” Milani said. “However, for our donations to different organizations in the Atlanta area, we will continue to fundraise for donations throughout the year.”