Thursday, February 20, 2014

Black Identity at 'Gate

This week’s Brown Bag hosted by Black Student Union focused on Black Identity at Colgate. The group of the student panelists shared their experiences of how their racial identity affected them on the campus, in the classroom, and in the dating scene. All the students on the panel racially identified as Black. One of the common themes was the place where they realized their race and for most of them it was at Colgate and one of the statements was, “I became known as the Black guy, rather than Hashim.”  In addition, they expressed the hardship of being labeled by the color of their skin, which oftentimes stripped them of their individuality, their personality.   Joe Aiken mentioned that one the pressure that exists in the classroom for him as a student of color, is the expectation to speak on behalf of his race and to constantly speak in order to prove that he is educated on the subject. Aja Isler, revealed that one of the important ways for her to navigate and connect to her Black identity was by going natural.

The Brown Bag reveals how students how some students who racially identity as Black navigate on campus where they are not the majority.  This Brown Bag effectively demonstrates how race, class, and sexuality intersect, and this allows for ways to have conversation. As an African American student, listening the panelists, I connect with their stories about the classroom dynamic, going natural, and the hardship of dating at ‘Gate. Yet, there were moments, that I felt left out of the conversation because the panelists were people who identified as Black, and there was no representation for people who identify as both African American and Black, or who were biracial and identified as Black and much more.  By having a representation of these racial identities would allow for a more inclusive and honest discussion.  Furthermore, by having a more diverse panel would also bring students who usually do not partake in the Brown Bag discussions into the conversation of racial identity.  However, these discussions are only the beginning to understanding the implications of race at Colgate, a school where the majority of the students are white and most of them come from a higher socio- economic background.

- Noufo Nabine' 16

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