Existing as a Black person in America is an experience. Attending a PWI (predominantly white institution) as a Black student is a similar experience on a micro level. Every time Black students walk into a room or a place on campus, it seems like their Black identity is the main focus. For this reason, there are limited spaces at Meredith College that make Black students feel like they can belong and just be students.
Black students on campus remain in a state of constant whiteness. From the tradition of class dolls with mostly pale faces to classes with professors who don't look like us, representation on campus is at an extremely low point. In Jeanine’s three years at Meredith, she has not had a Black professor, let alone a Black woman professor. Despite this, we still find the push for whiteness to change. However, this is a double-edged sword. When individuals are given the opportunity to create change on campus, they experience resistance to the work that they are trying to accomplish. The back-and-forth leads to unfit compromises that fulfill half of what is promised. Meredith College is going through a transformation and it takes a toll on Black students.
Oftentimes, there is pressure placed on Black students to be the perfect representation of Blackness in spaces where we are one of the only Black people. That isn't just because of whiteness; we also fear that making the wrong decision will negatively impact other Black students on this campus. We fear this because of the responsibility that we are expected to take on. As Black leaders on campus, it almost feels like eyes are always peering to see what we do next. Sometimes it feels like we are also presented on a glass cliff. Unlike the one of sexism, we are given the burden of the past countless times, even to the point of asking Black leaders to resolve immense social issues such as systemic racism. Since we both serve as Cornhuskin' co-chairs, we have experienced the expectations of the campus. All of the pain, exclusion and improper behavior is a responsibility that now falls upon us.
Having Black history on campus is essential to the progression of the culture here at Meredith. However, we should be celebrating Black history all of the time, not just during the month of February. Praising Black history for the sake of claiming diversity is a disservice to the educational purpose of Black history. The goal of Black History Month is to at one point not have Black history month, instead allowing Black history to be appreciated and considered for what it is: history. This falls on the same wavelength as acknowledging Black history on social media. If you post about a Black business or a Black entrepreneur in February, post as frequently during the other eleven months of the year.
Black history is more than just a month, it is our life.
By Jeanine Carryl and Aminah Jenkins, Staff Writers