It was a celebration of history, culture and the utopian ideology of “Wakanda” from Marvels’ recent box office hit, Black Panther as four U.S. diplomats sat down to discuss and share the experience and heritage of African American History Month. Collaborating with the U.S. Embassy in Malaysia, INTI International College Subang had the opportunity to host the lively panel discussion which was moderated by Jay R. Smith, Hitz.fm’s ‘Morning Crew’ American radio announcer. Sitting on the panel were Nat Turner, Economic Counselor for the U.S. Embassy in Malaysia; Jewel Turner, Community Liaison Officer; Stacey Hopkins, Community Liaison Officer, and Staff Sgt. Jake Brice, an Operations Assistant in the Office of the Defense Attaché.
Over 80 students and staff from INTI’s American University Program (AUP) received a crash course on the history behind this American cultural celebration which was launched in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson. The panelists discussed the history of African Americans in the United States, their passion for Black Panther and the strong message it carries for the African American community, and their hopes for a better, diverse and more inclusive society in the future. The 45 minute-discussion started with conversations surrounding the progression of African American History Month, followed by exchanges on African American History Month’s significance, racial polarization, prejudices and discrimination against African Americans, state involvement in racial relations, and micro-aggressions.
Beyond the panelists views and opinions, INTI students also had the opportunity to engage in a vibrant question and answer session where they posed various questions pertaining to the celebration itself and the current racial and social climate in U.S. Some of the questions asked included possible solutions to combat institutionalized racism, how much of Martin Luther’s King iconic speech, “I Have a Dream”, has been realized today, and the objectives of African American History Month along with its main messaging. In response to the last question, Nat Turner poignantly shared that whilst African American History Month generally serves as a reminder to remember the struggles of African Americans, it is also to celebrate the achievements and contributions of African Americans.
The event was insightful for the AUP students in attendance as many are in preparation to further their studies to the U.S. and it helped them understand the diversity and challenges faced even for a first world country like the United States of America.
“We are pleased to have hosted this event in collaboration with the U.S. Embassy here in Malaysia as we believe our students gained tremendous knowledge and experiences by hearing first hand from people who have amazing stories to share. Being exposed to the cultural heritage, struggles and achievements of people from different races widens our students’ perspective and understanding on cultural pride and history. We also believe these events can help better prepare our U.S. bound students to have a better view of the diverse social climate in the U.S.,” shared Kevin Lowrence, Dean for the Center for American Education at INTI International College Subang.
The panel discussion ended with a group photograph of the panelists, Jay R. Smith and the students giving off the “Wakanda Forever” salute.