UMKC students, staff meet to discuss race relations

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Students and faculty at UMKC gathered for a listening session Wednesday to discuss race relations on campus. The discussion at the student union was closed to the public.

This is the first of three listening sessions staged by Chancellor Leo Morton in response to racial tensions taking place on the Columbia campus.

Morton wants to get his finger on the pulse of the atmosphere at UMKC. And the school made a point of creating a so-called “safe space” for the meeting, posting signs banning cameras and other recording devices, similar to what you might see for weapons.

Still a number of African-American students, including Dahlia Dyson, are not afraid to speak publicly about what they call hidden racism at UMKC.

“People who want to be anonymous and say things but we know you’re here,” Dyson said. “The numbers are here. If you want to say it, go ahead and say it, use your face, don’t be afraid to say what you have to say. Because we are protesting. We are not afraid to show our faces.”

Dyson is on the UMKC track team from Ferguson, Mo. And she says when she joined a peaceful protest on campus in support of Ferguson demonstrators she experienced racial backlash.

The university says it wants to make sure it’s giving a voice to, and listening to diverse perspectives in its community.

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