Narrowing the racial divide at Valley

Black History Month is an opportunity to address racial tension.

By Dede Ogbueze, Staff Writer

Some say since the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012, the racial divide in America has once again been thrust into the spotlight. Valley College’s Black Student Union plans to use Black History Month to address the race issues that are plaguing the nation.

Throughout America’s complicated history with Civil Rights, student bodies have been at the forefront of the equality struggle. Students at North Carolina A&T University, Bennett College, and Greensboro College for Women spearheaded the 1960 Greensboro sit-ins. This drew national media coverage and led to sit-ins at college towns across the country.

Fast forward to 2015, students at USC, Occidental College, Yale University and most notably, the University of Missouri—where several members of the football team refused to play until their university president resigned—fiercely protested racial insensitivity and injustices on campus.

Several hundred Occidental College students occupied the administration building for five days and presented a list of 14 demands to the administration. Students demanded the administration fund a major in black studies and appoint a chief diversity officer.

Some of the outrage that sparked the national protests was due to university administration’s inability to deal with student-on-student incidents of racism. Students who instigated the confrontations seemed culturally insensitive or oblivious to racism. Much like when members of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity at UCLA threw a “Kanye West-themed” party where some attendees wore blackface and dressed in baggy jeans and wore gold teeth.

Students of Valley College’s Black Student Union believe that opportunities like Black History Month can be beneficial in opening a dialogue that gives insight to why such an instance is racist. Not only to provide historical context of Blackness in America, but to increase awareness of contemporary cultural differences and the present racial climate in our country.

Valley will be taking a fresh approach to Black History Month. Too often Black history is solely associated with slavery and the Civil Rights Movement.

“Black culture and racism in America do not exist solely in the 1900s, said Acacia Ingram, a second-year student. “It is important to see current depictions of Blackness, not just slavery and Jim Crow.”

Starting Feb. 22, the Black Student Union will host daily events dedicated to celebrating Blackness, spreading awareness and honoring Black men and women who have help shape American culture. The first event will be a screening of “Dear White People”—a film that tackles racial insensitivity on college campuses—followed by a panel discussion and reflection in the student services multipurpose room (SSC 245) at 2 p.m.. 

BSU members will lead a town hall discussion titled “Black Lives, Black Culture – A Discussion on Current Topics” Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the Fireside Room located in Campus Center.

Wednesday, BSU will be hosting a celebration in the student services plaza with a New Orleans Jazz band, which will feature traditional southern cuisine catered by Dulan’s On Crenshaw Soul Food, an independently-owned soul food restaurant located in South Central, Los Angeles.

Members of BSU said it is important to for non-black students to attend Black History Month events and engage in the activities.

Deon, a BSU member, says “Being pro-black does not mean being anti-white.”

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