Indy professor using Chauvin trial to help students consider ethical, moral questions

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Derek Chauvin trial has sparked conversations and discussions among college students.

Leslie Etienne has his eye on the trial.

“I teach a class that’s based in Black culture. So we have to recognize where this fits into Black culture. Like this relationship with law enforcement. This relationship with bondage. This relationship with control of Black bodies,” said Etienne, director of Africana Studies at IUPUI.

News 8 caught him as he was in preparations to have discussions with his IUPUI students about the trial. He said the time for those conversations is now.

“How does this affect you? What does this say about the society that you live in? These are the types of questions that we have to have, because they are ethical questions. They’re moral questions. The humanistic endeavor, that aspect of it has to come into your psyche and your thought process. Also, some of it is to check on them. This is a very tough time,” Etienne said Tuesday.

Etienne added, “Every generation has to reckon with these critical issues in a racialized society, whether we like it or not. So, I think when students begin to deal with that, I think the communication, I think the understanding … I think again, these ideas around what resistance looks like to these things, because they are obviously something that you have to deal with. There’s no escaping it. I think those are the areas where I would want them to get some level of understanding and to be able to have kind of an inner dialogue and a dialogue outside of the confines of the university or just their little circles.”

Logan Selders, 20, is one of Etienne’s students. For him, these discussions are very important.

“The discussions in the class help me, because I grew up in a place where there weren’t many people like myself. So, this kind of helps me get a fuller understanding to be able to wrap my head around this whole situation because it’s such a big event,” Selders said.

Etienne said his students have done work up to this point, and he hopes they learn even more.

“I would want them to be able to, of course, make their own decision about what they saw, but also be able to recognize what forces, what types of things are coming at them from either side of the barrel. And to be able to make some sort of delineation about how they are going to approach society and this life,” Etienne said.