Several members of the Edinboro University community are participating in Open Up PGH’s Sunday Safe Spaces, a series that hosts raw, honest conversations about life as Black Americans.
Edinboro University alum Chaz Kellem ('05) and co-host April Jackson, parent of Edinboro student-athlete Khalil Jackson, are on the schedule for this Sunday’s discussion, “Black Men in Leadership.”
Kellem hopes the panel will help inspire discussions about what causes setbacks and resistance on inclusion in leadership.
“It is my hope that all the marginalized or minoritized communities every day feel appreciated, heard, valued and supported and that we as a community and country explore the barriers that are prohibiting or providing resistance for these communities to find success and happiness defined by them,” Kellem said.
While the topic might be sensitive to some, Kellem hopes the discussions will address the honest feelings and experiences of the panel.
“I want the panel to be real, authentic and transparent, and I hope that we will demonstrate the true essence of black professionalism and black leaders,” Kellem said. “I want us to be able to, through our lived and professional testimonies, give realistic and practical actions that the viewers can take into their own positions and bring people along with them. I’m confident there won’t be any hesitancy to talk about the hard stuff.”
The Sunday Safe Spaces series was inspired by the movement for racial justice in 2020 to recognize the struggles of black Americans.
“The goal with Sunday Safe Spaces is to bring centering and healing tools to the forefront and make it accessible for all,” Jackson said. “These discussions help us to bring forth the issues that need to be addressed and from there offer support and mindfulness practices that can directly support healing in these areas.”
Jackson hopes that the panel can serve as a forum for people from the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, or BIPOC community (and the intersections of all those within it) to freely, comfortably and safely speak about life as they know it to be for them. Additionally, she hopes it offers an opportunity for others to hear and educate themselves on topics of importance to the BIPOC community and bring connections to those within that community.
“Communication is key, and this is a small step towards amplifying voices that are often not listened to,” Jackson said. “These discussions are universal and can be broadened to support the national crisis of racism and disparities with our country.”
As for her son Khalil, Jackson already is seeing leadership shining through.
“His experiences at Edinboro led him to be a part of a Black Lives Matter movement here at home in the South Hills of Pittsburgh,” Jackson said. “He, along with three other young men, organized a beautiful, peaceful protest in our community which was attended by over 700 people. His organizational and leadership abilities really shined through, and I hope he has the support and capacity to bring all of that to his next years at Edinboro, on the field and off.”