Samuel Collins: Celebrate black history month at GW

Few black people at GW can avoid what I call those ill-fated “black moments,” whether it’s a racially insensitive remark from a peer or a missing GWorld.

See, I can still remember the look of skepticism on my fellow City Hall resident’s face as I tried to explain to her I was a student who lost his GWorld and needed to get into his residence hall. She thought I was just another person on the street auditioning for a role in the newest crime alert.

Black people still face adversity that many Americans refuse to acknowledge, especially within the echelons of academia. At GW, racism is an ever-present elephant in the room.

But students of all races need to know that the black community is one with pride. And this February, the black community will share that pride and history with the greater community through the annual Black Heritage Celebration. This year’s theme, Bleeding Black, speaks to that pride in the black experience. These events are not exclusive to black people, and as members of this diverse community, it is imperative that all students take time from the quick pace of college life to attend at least one event. Despite cultural differences within the black community, our sense of responsibility to our families and the rest of the global black community brings us together.

It’s hard to understand how there is still a level of ignorance that allowed a GW Patriot writer in 2008 to criticize the Student Association for allocating funds to the Black Heritage Celebration or prompted the Young America’s Foundation to hold an anti-affirmative action bake sale last spring.

These instances only prove that the entire community has work to do before GW is truly a campus without hate. This generation of young and educated black people has provided ample opportunities for the student body to create an honest forum for discussion and sharing knowledge, especially in “Real Conversations,” an event series with different topics often co-hosted by the Student Activities Center (now known as the Center for Student Engagement) and black organizations. Yet despite these opportunities for dialogue, that discussion has rarely involved people who are not black, other than members of the panel.

All that can easily change this February. No matter your racial or ethnic background, celebrate black history with GW’s black community. Immerse yourself in the culture, and learn about a history often overlooked. This is a critical step in building a more progressive and truly inclusive campus.

Samuel Collins, a master’s student in the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, is a Hatchet columnist.

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