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Notre Dame hosts panel about racial justice

Notre Dame rounded out its Race Relations week with a panel discussion on racial justice. The South Bend community is hoping it’s a starting point for change.

It featured speakers who have experienced racism—and those who are working to eradicate it.

“Figuring out ways to help them get—to help them fulfill their dreams,” said former NBA player David Robinson.

Helping a diverse group of people fulfill their dreams--that was the goal of Notre Dame’s racial justice panel discussion Wednesday.

They talked a lot about obstacles.

“The challenges they face, why those challenges have come about,” said Christina Brooks, South Bend’s Diversity and Inclusion officer.

Twins Maria and Gabby Munoz Robles know these challenges first hand.

They’re undocumented immigrants.

“We understood, oh we’re not supposed to be here. People don’t want us here, and there’s a lot of prejudice against us,” said undocumented Notre Dame student, Maria Munoz Robles.

Community members say they still see these prejudices in South Bend.

“I think South Bend is a lot like most northern cities. There’s a lot of underlying prejudices that people grew up with, much of it based on fear,” said South Bend resident John Butkovich.

That’s what Notre Dame and the city are trying to change through this discussion.

 “I think discussions are always important. They’re a starting point, and usually ideas are generated when you have two people engaged in a conversation. And that’s really what all this is about,” said Brooks.

Notre Dame is hoping this starting point inspires students to take the lead.

“I think it’s a critically important topic, particularly for you, because you are our next generation of leaders,” said Robinson.

Students seem ready to accept that responsibility.

“We feel that even though we are immigrants, we deserve equal opportunity as our peers, that we’re not just fighting for ourselves, I want to help everyone else,” said undocumented Notre Dame student, Gabby Munoz Robles.

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