First of all, I don?t want to be labeled as the “black writer,” but since it is Black History Month, this is a good time to address certain topics. For instance, why is there a Black History month? I often hear white students (and non-students) ask this question.Or some ask, “Why isn?t there a white history month?” For those who don?t ask, I?m pretty sure they shared similar thoughts at one time or another. In addition to that way of thinking, I often hear people ask, “Why is there a Black Student Union as opposed to a White Student Union?” Even though one could possibly conjure up a valid argument regarding these topics, the means for understanding why a Black History month and a B.S.U are needed is not that difficult.
Think of it this way: in foreign countries, the United States establishes embassies in that country to guarantee that any American who happens to live, visit or work in that country, will have access to American culture and American
ways of life. Ambassadors even work in these embassies to guarantee that America is represented in that country. Whether it is money, communicating back to America, or trade, embassies promise that American ideals are represented everywhere. Without ambassadors and these places of safety, it is not guaranteed that America will even be recognized in that particular part of the world.
If the United States did not have a U.S. Embassy in China, how would the United States be certain that the Americans living in China or visiting China would be able to communicate with family in the United States, conduct business in a comfortable atmosphere or even trade safely? It would be foolish not to establish embassies in places where Americans reside or visit. Many foreign countries do not share similar ideals with Americans. Who would an American outsider relate to then?
Therefore, without a Black Student Union (or LASO), which address the social, cultural, spiritual and educational needs of minorities on campus, where would a minority go for these needs to be met? Let?s not be so blind. This campus, like our society, is predominantly white, which means that there are going to be more white professors, student leaders and administrators. Consequently, the views and ideals of the majority are obviously going to be addressed regularly.
Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing, but we do realize that people of color and whites have different beliefs and views on society and “American culture.” What guarantee is it that the minority opinion will even be considered? I wish I could say that “we are all Americansand we all love and protect each other,” but that would be unrealistic. Even though minorities are not “foreigners” to this country, American history proves that issues facing minorities was never on America?s top priorities list.
Were you ever the only black in a classroom full of college students? Were you ever the only black at a college party? Do you know what that would feel like? Wouldn?t you need to have someone round that you could relate to, similar to a representative or ambassador who shares similar ideals and views? I?m not saying all black people think alike, but at least it would be there.
In a white dominated society and campus, there?s no guarantee that the opinion, ideals, issues and outlooks of minorities will be brought to the forefront. Therefore, a B.S.U is needed, in order to promise that those needs will be met or that circumstances will evolve to promise that certain issues are properly managed. As far as a White Student Union, there is no need for one. Organizations, administrators, professors, most students — the whole campus is already dominated by majority views and ideals. What more representation would be needed?
The same correlation can be used in regards to Black History Month. History is always told from the perspective of the victorious.
In this case, the victorious is the majority. There is no guarantee that minority contributions to this society will be discussed in American classrooms. If you are the victor, your history is highlighted, even if this means minimizing others? contributions. Therefore, dedicating a month to guarantee that “black history” will be discussed is definitely needed. Without this month, would black history even be talked about at all?
Many might even argue that there should be a “White History Month.” Again, white history is always the history that is taught throughout U.S. schools and universities.
That?s why in elementary school, we were told that Columbus discovered America: that?s white history. However false, it was told through the mouths of the victorious.
It would be great if accurate history could be discussed in our educational systems. Then there would be no specific history months needed. However, since that will never happen, a Black History Month is needed.
Instead of arguing that there shouldn?t be a black history month or that there shouldn?t be a B.S.U., let?s try to understand why these are needed. Hopefully, this can be a start in helping us all understand some things.
Shane Daniels is a student at West Chester University.