Atif R. Lanier is a co-creator of the short film “The Negro Zone,” which is based upon some of his life experiences.
“We need to talk. We as a society, people aren’t talking,” Lanier said.
He presented the film and discussion at an event in the Family Life Center on Tuesday evening
Lanier is he co-creator of the short film, which is approximately 26 minutes long, as well as the presenter of the event.
Immediately following the short film was a section of the presentation called the “hot seat.”
This entailed three Q&A rounds in which Lanier asked pressing and occasionally intimate questions of the individual in the hot seat.
Each round consisted of approximately three questions, with each round getting progressively more challenging to answer.
“Police officers bring their personal beliefs to their job. You don’t leave yourself and who you are behind when you go to work,” Lanier said. “We are all living in historic times. Thirty years from now you’re gonna say to your children ‘I lived through that.’”
Isaac Cenescar, a safety for the Bison football team, said he heard about the event through a friend.
“It was very eye-opening,” Cenescar said. “There were controversial arguments, but it was very informative. Especially with what is going on in society today, it’s good to see people butt heads and talk about it. This dialogue is much needed.”
“I want to thank you guys for bringing me here, and I just want people to learn and to promote diversity,” Lanier said.
“I have experienced discrimination every single day I have worked here, but it is not worse than if I was in Africa,” Charles Okigbo, a professor with NDSU’s communication department, said. “Discrimination is not necessarily a bad thing, if you realize that it will work against you.”
“Discrimination favors us, you have to be prepared,” Okigbo said. “I expect discrimination, but it makes me work harder. It is important for you to use your brain. The best policy in life is to will good to another, regardless of the color of their skin.”
“This is a multi-faceted problem,” Lanier said as he concluded the presentation. “Each and every one of you has to figure out what is your lane? Ask yourself, what is it that you have that can be a solution to a problem. Nobody has the answer to everything, but every one of us has the answer to something.”
The event was promoted by the Office of Multicultural Programs, which has been hosting events promoting diversity dialogues for the entirety of February in honor of Black History Month.