“They’re issues that we might not be able to understand and we may not be able to feel on that personal level, but that we are able to recognize them and say, ‘Hey, we have your back with all of this’,” McKenzie said.
While answering another question about capitalism and white supremacy, McKenzie used the term “colored people.” After an audience member expressed concern, he apologized.
“I think my privilege as a white male is going to follow me the entire year,” McKenzie said. “I think it’s a conversation I’m always going to want to have and be transparent about it.”
Defining social justice
Patel and McKenzie said social justice is about confronting systemic oppression on an individual level.
“Oppression is loud, and if social justice is not louder and we’re not talking to everyone on campus and increasing that impact and not making sure that our voices are being heard, then we’re not in the pursuit of social justice,” McKenzie said.
Peeples and Staton said they define social justice as a commitment to deconstructing the ways people contribute to the oppression of others.
“It is a commitment to preserving everyone’s rights and equity of opportunity, but also the personal commitment to showing up every day and living your life in such a way that you’re not continuing the oppression of other people,” Peeples said.
Goals for the upcoming year
Peeples and Staton said they want to reinforce ethical service and engagement with the community.
“Our biggest thing is making sure that we’re standing with marginalized communities and solidify the Campus Y as a place where people can be safe and as an organization that wants to fight for other people,” Staton said.
Patel and McKenzie said their main goals as co-presidents are outreach and engagement on local issues within Chapel Hill.
“We really value power of people and we want to engage with as many people as possible, bring them in and allow them to get involved,” Patel said.