By Evelyn Garcia
Students came together in Ursa Major at the Bronco Student Center Thursday to watch two episodes of “America Divided,” an EPIX documentary series that explores issues of inequality across various narratives involved in education, healthcare, criminal justice and the political system, among others.
According to La’Keisha Beard, senior coordinator at the Office of Student Life and Cultural Centers, the producers of the show reached out to Cal Poly Pomona and other universities to allow screenings of the series during Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office.
“In a condensed version, you can get a decent overview on a couple of topics I think are really relevant right now,” said Jami Grosser, senior coordinator for OSLCC.
The docu-series, first released during the 2016 election season, discusses a range of topics in five parts covering immigration, housing, the criminal justice system, education and healthcare.
It features recognizable faces such as Amy Poehler, Zach Galifianakis and Rosario Dawson to name a few, who each travel to different parts of the country in order to shed light on these issues and learn more about them along the way.
Students watched the first episode during U-hour while enjoying Subway catering provided to them.
“Out of Reach” featured America Ferrera, who traveled to Texas where undocumented migrants live extremely difficult lives hiding in the shadows and where, in some cases, U.S. citizens have no rights.
Throughout the episode, Ferrera got to know a family of women who could not obtain birth certificates for their American-born children since they themselves are not citizens.
While it appears illogical that legal children in this country don’t have proof of their existence, “America Divided” reveals how often this occurs.
The episode also delved into the journey migrants take in order to make it into the United States and what their lives are like when they are detained.
With a new administration in office that has painted undocumented citizens in a negative light and targeted migrants because of their religions, this topic has become increasingly significant.
Tia Smith, a first-year English student, attended the screening to improve her own awareness of the issues.
“If you’re someone like me, I know my skin color gives me privilege,” said Smith. “And so I need to learn how to check that, and I need to be able to see the other side of things and why it’s important to vote against that kind of policy.”
Beard stated that when the producers reached out, it came during a perfect time for the OSLCC as it is currently hosting #CivilSpeak, a series of programs, events and resources in partnership with other departments and organizations.
The goal of the series is for students and faculty to engage in dialogue post-election and to encourage those who are worried about what the new presidency means to take care of themselves and become engaged.
“The Class Divide” is the second part in the docu-series. It follows Jesse Williams of “Grey’s Anatomy” as he uncovers inequality in education throughout a Florida suburb.
Williams learned St. Petersburg, particularly Pinellas County, is home to five of the 15 worst schools in the state.
The episode discussed these elementary schools and how children as young as six years old had been taken into custody for acts such as disorderly conduct, which is typical adolescent behavior. In addition, the five schools also see some of the lowest test scores in the country.
These issues, amongst others covered in the docu-series’ entirety, may be difficult to watch but are instrumental in the search for solutions.
Grosser explained that it is also important to help students learn these facts and become informed.
“Particularly during this election, at times it can be hard to decipher which media sources may be bias or are providing accurate information,” said Grosser.
There are a few more events left in the #CivilSpeak series, all listed on the OSLCC web page. Students are encouraged to attend in order to keep conversations as important as those in “America Divided” going.
Courtesy of EPIX
The episode featuring America Ferrera featured her traveling to Texas to investigate the lifestyle of undocumented immigrants
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