As Black History Month comes to an end, I believe it is an appropriate time to reflect on the importance of all communities celebrating Black history.
Throughout the month of February, student organizations and academic departments held events to commemorate Black history. The campus-wide theme for this year’s Black History month was “A Celebration of Toni Morrison and Women Writers of Color.” Lectures, book groups, and panel discussions have been held in honor of these women and their work.
These events serve to spark conversations among students who identify as Black and those who don’t. Through these conversations, we as a community are supposed to get closer to reaching our goal of inclusivity and equity for all. However, this can’t happen if students from a variety of backgrounds don’t show up.
As I attend these events, I encourage other friends and classmates – mostly people who do not identify as Black – to attend them as well. There have been a couple occasions where people have rejected my invitation, stating that they do not identify with Black culture or history, and therefore do not see the importance of attending. This response disappoints me, mostly because it shows a lack of interest.
Many students claim to be inclusive of other identities but seem to forget that without knowledge of the other, there is a failure to truly be inclusive. As a member of a minority group, I spend a lot of time ensuring that I am treated equally inside and outside of the classroom. Though many students on campus strive to be allies, it’s obvious that they do not understand the amount of time and effort this requires, because they don’t face the same experiences. What these people fail to understand is that without knowledge and intimate interaction with another’s daily struggles or history, they will not be proper allies.
I wish that all students on campus would take opportunities like Black History Month and other events sponsored by student organizations to learn about groups with which they may not identify. It is important for all of us at Luther to note that true inclusivity and equity can only be achieved if we truly make an effort to understand each other.
Furthermore, we can only understand each other if we do two things; first, we must all endeavor to learn more about the history and struggle of other identities. Second, we must all strive to be true allies of those who support other groups unconditionally.
Showing up to campus events on a regular basis is a simple way to show your commitment to true allyship. It is a choice to remain holed up in your dorm room and completely ignorant of the lives of students different than yours. I challenge you to come, listen, and learn the next time Black History Month rolls around.