By Grace Rozembajgier
This year for Black History Month, The UPost had the privilege of speaking with Black Affinity Members, sophomore Austin Clark and freshman Zoe McMullen. Below are their thoughts about Black Affinity at University and their perspectives on Black History Month.
On Black Affinity – “So a big thing that we have covered this year was hate speech, and specifically the n-word. We didn’t want to take it upon ourselves to be like ‘here’s what it should be for all hate speech’ because we weren’t going to get up and speak for Jewish Affinity or GSA…we we were just focused on what we wanted to do and what we wanted portrayed in the Handbook….
“[Black Affinity is] kinda like a family and it’s more close knit…. The first month or so we were just getting to know each other. We all want to be comfortable with each other…and then we always talk about how everybody’s day is or really just getting to know the person more than what you see at school. Last year, being in Affinity, I didn’t get to know everybody so it wasn’t always the most comfortable there…I didn’t talk to a lot of people…I didn’t really know them other than from Affinity. But now it’s like I’ve gotten to know them because of Affinity. And because we’re so comfortable with each other, we’re able to do something like change the Handbook that has been in place for 20 years. So, I feel like that’s pretty great.”
On Black History Month – “Personally I feel like — actually I feel like a lot of people in Affinity feel this way — like Black History Month shouldn’t be just one month in the year….It seems like ‘well, like it’s Black History Month, make sure you’re acknowledging it,’ even though it should be acknowledged all the time. And so I know a lot of people in Affinity feel that it [black history] should be recognized a little more than it is.”
On Black History Month – “When it comes to Black History Month, I try to inform myself more about it because when it comes to information from school, I feel like I kind of hear about the same people over and over again. A lot of people don’t know about too many actual black people that did historical, monumental things. Especially in the US, we kind of have a tunnel view of people that we know about…Even how we commercialize the month as well, it’s always advertised with the same people.
“I know that a lot of women that are in fields that are mostly dominated by men [are not celebrated as much]. For example, we had a movie a couple years ago [“Hidden Figures”].
Not only were they [the heroines] women, but they were minorities. So NASA appreciated what they did, but NASA probably didn’t acknowledge them as much as the achievements of other people, especially the men.
“Sometimes this gives a weird representation for black people especially because…we’re really known for our achievements in stuff like sports, but things like math and science fields we don’t hear about as much….A lot of people do a lot of great achievements every single day. People think of new things every single day, and they do new things, and they help out people to do new things.
“Of course it’s a great month and I appreciate the sentiment of having a month dedicated to my community. And I appreciate people putting effort in to tell other people about historical black people that have done important stuff in their community and, even, outside their community. I just think it’s a really good month to celebrate people’s heritage.”
Image courtesy of Study Breaks Magazine.