Black-only student housing is change in the wrong direction
‘I view it as incredibly naïve’
Recently, Fox News reported that California State University established Black only housing that would grant Black students a haven from racism on campus. While ultimately the decision was made not to exclude races from housing, but to open housing that would embrace Black culture, there are other colleges that actually have Black only housing, such as UC Davis and Berkeley.
The Black Student Union released a statement to Cal State, saying: “Black students at Cal State LA have been, and still are, consistently made the targets of racist attacks by fellow students, faculty, and administration. These attacks come in many forms. Some are more overt and some subtle. Racially insensitive remarks, and micro-aggressions, by professors and students create a learning environment that is not conducive to the overall learning atmosphere. This presents unnecessary barriers to the success of Black students here on campus.”
Sydney DeLone, the Black Student Union president at UC Davis, spent her Freshman year in an African American housing complex.
She said: “It was definitely a safe space because you see people that look like you, that are going through the same things you’re going through”.
While some Black students view it as a chance to relax from racist remarks, as a Black woman, I view it as incredibly naïve.
College is about immersion and education, not protection. Requesting housing away from other races while at a college hinders us from learning about each other. College is the main time in our lives where we can meet people from half way across the world, and people want to risk that opportunity because of someone else’s ignorance when it comes to race?
Yes, people typically misunderstand us as a whole. Racism still continues to plague our country and some might not even acknowledge that it is a serious problem.
However, this does not grant us the right to build a wall and ignore their misguidance. Instead, that will only prolong the issue.
I asked UH students how they would feel if our college had Black only housing for students.
“That would feel weird, why lump everyone together on such a diverse campus?”, said 23-year-old UH marketing student Manon Pierre-Jerome.
“If students wanted to be lumped together they would have attended a college of their ethnicity.”
Henry Jreji, a 23 year old UH Mechanical Engineering student and Public Relation Coordinator for the Residence Halls Association , said: “I think having a non-inclusive housing just encourages discrimination and separates people from each other whether it was black only, white only or whatever. To me if it was a brown only for example (even though I’m considered white) I wouldn’t live in it.”
“I mean it’d be super live but not ethnically acceptable,” say 20-year-old UH Nutrition student Erin Morrison. “Just because exclusion based on race is not acceptable.”
Ideally, as Black people we should be able to go to any college in America and not have to deal with racist remarks and attacks. However, we do not live in an ideal America for Black people. This is why we have historically Black colleges and universities. Howard, Morehouse, Spelman, Tuskegee, and the other HBCUs are our established college havens. Going to colleges that were more than likely at one point segregated, and then asking them to establish Black only housing negates the efforts of not only those HBCUs that worked hard to make a name for themselves, but also the civil rights activists who were beaten, jailed, and killed to abolish segregation in every aspect.
To be blunt, you can’t join an organization in college that celebrates Black culture and empowerment, and not be prepared to face racism. Ideally we shouldn’t have to deal with it at all, but you are representing an oppressed, generally misunderstood race; there will be ignorance thrown your way.
Stand tall and keep going. Get your degree and show them that you can bloom in adversity.
Black only housing only pushes us backwards from ultimately fighting racism. Going to a haven may make things easier for you, but segregated housing will hurt all of us.
If you ultimately feel as though you do not have the fight in you, if you are not ready to face racism from your peers and professors, then just go to an HBCU. Do not wind back time for us who have the strength and motivation to fight towards change.