BY ANNISTON WEBER
The BIPOC Community of Ellis County had their first official meeting on Monday. The event, titled “Can we just talk? Safe Space and Community Support” was hosted at Breathe Coffee House and live streamed on Facebook.
Nuchelle and Demetrius Chance created the event as a way to “build a place of social and emotional support for all oppressed and marginalized peoples regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, mental illness, social class, education level, or age.”
Those who participated in the meeting discussed a wide range of topics such as the COVID-19 vaccine, mental health, code switching, and the use of African American Vernacular English.
“I hope that this event creates a visualization of a new era and social climate in our community,” Demetruis Chance said. “Intimidation, retaliation and victimization has haunted and controlled the lives of so many POCs in Hays, especially college students.”
Chance said the organization and meetings are personal to him because of his experiences living in Hays and his exposure to racial injustices.
“I know how it feels to be judged and racially attacked by people who don’t even know anything about me,” he said. “So to create a space for POCs to be able to talk about their struggles, let down their hair, and openly be themselves even if it’s just for a moment is amazing.”
Makaylan Katzer, an attendee of Monday’s meeting, said she hopes these meetings will impact the community by raising awareness.
“Awareness is the key to most of these issues,” Katzer said. “It’s the first step, and afterwards we can tackle the harder problems.”
Lack of judgement and a friendly atmosphere are a few of the aspects of the group that Katzer says draws her to attend the meetings.
“There are some things that are hard to talk about when others don’t understand you, and this is the best atmosphere for making me feel free to do so,” she said. “It’s not even about politics or such sometimes. It’s also about fellowship and making connections. I look forward to these meetings every month because it’s a great way for me to become closer with my culture and myself.”
According to the event page, “allies and accomplices are more than welcome,” to attend the meetings as well.
Demetrius Chance said he encourages all POCs to get involved, come to the meetings, and let them know if there is anything they can assist them with.
“With these meetings we hope to gain the attention and relay the importance to others that this is how we start to make change,” Chance said. “If we have any desire to help make change in our community, we must first unite together, and truly become our brother’s and sister’s keeper. We want all POCs to know that we are here for you and we won’t stop fighting to help make this place a little bit easier to live in.”
The next “Can we just talk?” event is scheduled to take place at 6:30 p.m. April 19 in Breathe Coffee House. For more information, visit the BIPOC Community of Ellis County Facebook page.