On May 17, 1954, the United States Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional for public schools to be racially segregated. Nearly 67 years have passed, but do we see much of a difference?
I’m not saying Black people are failing to get accepted at predominately white institutions because I’m obviously at one, but it seems like we get to one and then we just disappear. Black people kind of just melt away into the background of PWI’s, or at least that’s how I feel at Northwest.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day fell on Jan. 18 this year, and Northwest’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion hosted an MLK week to honor the late civil rights leader. This included historical movie nights, a community service event and even a Juneteenth-based celebration. Upon hearing about this, I was excited because the campus could learn about Black history, or better yet, real American history.
But the week rolled by, I was a little disappointed by the turnout.
Due to schedule conflicts, I was only able to attend the movie nights followed by discussions. For some reason, I expected to see seats filled with eager eyes and insightful minds. In reality, I was met by relatively empty rooms with chairs awaiting tenants who never came.
At the time, I was happy to see at least some people came out to discuss such difficult topics, but in hindsight, I don’t understand why there weren’t more students at these easy-to-attend events.
From what I’ve experienced being part of Northwest’s Black community, we want more events that will attract people of color. The community wants more organizations, more discussions, more inclusion on campus. So, when there was a whole week dedicated to such a monumental Black figure, where were all of the people?
I already feel like Northwest is predominately white enough, so it didn’t help when I saw more white people at these events than those who belong to the community these gatherings aim to celebrate.
In 2017, Northwest’s student body was 81% white and 6% Black, so it’s not hard to feel outnumbered. Now, don’t get me wrong, the reason we have these conversations is to help educate people of all races with intentions of bettering interracial relations everywhere. It’s nice to have non-Black students attend, but who will they learn from if they share their same, outsider experiences with each other?
The Black community on campus, myself included, needs to be more accountable in showing up to these events. College is a very busy time for many people, but we should be assisting in making the campus a bit more integrated for current and future Black Bearcats.
Seeing such strong Black student leadership in my year and a half as a Bearcat, I think there is a lot of potential for greatness. Behind Associate Provost of Diversity and Inclusion Justin Mallet and Coordinator of Diversity and Inclusion N’ninah Freelon, we’re on the path to bringing more Black influence on campus.
With Black History Month right around the corner, this is the perfect time to grow the Black attendance. I can’t wait to see what the University has in store for February, and I know we can make a change on campus if we make our presence known.