I'm Kathleen McGouran for the Ryersonian. I'll be here to take you through a live blog of "From Ferguson to Toronto: Examining Race, Politics, and Scholarship" with Melissa Harris-Perry. The talk is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Hashtag #FergusonToToronto to get in on the conversation.
Harris-Perry is an American writer, political commentator and journalist for MSNBC. She hosts the Melissa Harris-Perry weekend news and opinion show on MSNBC. Her area of focus is African-American politics.
The topic at hand tonight is the controversy surrounding alleged questionable police action in Ferguson, Missouri this past August when an unarmed black teen, Michael Brown, was shot by police.
Ryersonian reporter Halla Imam is here with me to curate photos and source comments from the crowd. Tweet at her @hallaconnect with your comments.
The lecture hall in the Ted Rogers centre is about three-quarters full and people continue to pile in.
The talk tonight is part of the Ryerson Students' Union's social justice week. Today's theme is "Student Action Works."
Vice president of equity Pascale Diverlus addresses the crowd, recognizing that this event takes place on occupied land, as at the beginning of every event at Ryerson.
The crowd applauds in response to Diverlus' "no hate speech allowed" ground rules.
An interpreter is present to translate the speakers for the hearing-impaired.
Dr Denise O'Neil Green, vice president, vice provost EDI at Ryerson has taken the stage.
She says that she thinks a focus on "equity, systemic barriers, racism, discrimination and so forth" should be kept in the foreground so we can not only understand these problems, but change our institutions for the better.
O'Neil Green quotes Nelson Mandela after announcing that Ryerson will now have a scholarship in his namesake for one undergraduate and one graduate student for outstanding social justice work.
Dr Melissa Harris-Perry will now take the stage.
Perry thanks her cousin, a PhD student at the University of North Carolina, for travelling with her and looking after her baby.
Harris-Perry recalls her time at the University of Chicago at the same time as Barack and Michelle Obama. "I've never seen anybody bring up a learning curve faster than Barack Obama," she says.
Harris-Perry jokingly notes that we "do it different in Canada" by threatening to "put you out" if there are any racist or hateful remarks.
Harris-Perry notes that she spent a large amount of time in Ontario because of her uncle who was an English professor at the University of Waterloo.
"We're having kind of a weird decade in the U.S.," says Harris-Perry. She says this will be a very U.S.-centric talk of the last 10 years.
She says she will give us a "highly selective lens through which to see it," starting with 2004.
Harris-Perry begins with the film "Crash," which won best picture in 2004. She says this is presumably because it is the ushering in of the "great post-racial mullet."
She cites an instance in the film when a white police officer stops a black couple on their way home. After the white officer harasses the husband, he sexually assaults the wife. She says she thought this would be a turning point in the film when they talk about power.
She says the rape was about emasculation of the husband.