Anahzsa Jones | Correspondent
“You always hear about Dr. King, Rosa Parks, and all of them, but you don’t really hear about Malcolm X or these different people that were just as important but maybe were not as friendly to white culture,” said William Stewart, a senior studying electrical engineering and President of the Red Poets Society.
Stewart is one of many who believe our education in black history to be lacking on several fronts, and he places the responsibility for this deficit on the shoulders of those in power, who are in the majority, and have historically been white.
For the most part, black history education begins with the slave trade and ends with the civil rights movement, hitting a few highlights along the way. These highlights often include Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and George Washington Carver, along with a few other prominent figures.
Often, the representation of these figures is inaccurate and watered down for public consumption. Whether or not this is intentional is difficult to say, but the impact of this effective ‘whitewashing’ is even harder to deny.
Dr. Jamila Simpson, Assistant Dean for Diversity and Student Services in the College of Sciences, is an adamant supporter of more in depth black history, as it was taught to her in her college years.
“I think we need more representation of what black leadership looks like, but I think we also need authentic representation of who these people actually were,” she said in response to the typical black history curriculum.
Dr. Simpson spoke about her experience and the impact it had on her when she was an undergraduate here at NC State. As the first black female to ever receive a degree in meteorology from NC State in 2000, and the only African American in her major, Dr. Simpson was no stranger to the feeling of being alone that many African American students face upon arrival. “My self esteem was very low coming from my home town. I was often the only black student in most of my classes, and I encountered racism when I got here, too,” Simpson said.
One of the instances she remembers most occurred during black history month.
“I would write African American history facts on a dry erase board on my door every day during black history month…and my RA, who was a white male, came to me and said his girlfriend, who lived in my suite, thought my board was offensive and he wanted me to stop doing it. He told me it wasn’t white people’s fault that black people hadn’t contributed to science and math in this country,” said Simpson. Clearly, this narrow view of our history can have a detrimental impact, not only on African American students but also on the perceptions of the community at large.
“Thomas Edison is credited with the invention of the light bulb, but it was actually a black man who came up with the filament for the bulb…I learned that in fifth or sixth grade and that’s when I started to realize about race and the role that it plays,” said Wesley Coats, a junior studying computer science and the Vice President Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.
When black history is taught in schools, it is most often the case that the accomplishments that are focused on are limited to the ones that impacted the black community. In the fields of science, or mathematics, or anything outside of strictly ‘black’ culture, the information given is scarce or missing entirely. “It’s subconscious, but we’re overcoming messages that we haven’t contributed much, especially in STEM,” said Simpson.
The limited scope of black history shown to students was the inspiration for a poem by William Stewart. The poem speaks on the sanitization of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but also shines light on the issue at hand with the last line, “I am the only black king in their history books.”
“Martin Luther King was the least threatening black leader they could think of. Malcolm X’s ‘by any means necessary,’ you know, that’s scary to people who are comfortable in their own privilege,” said Stewart.
His poem, “In my name,” is a powerful example of how he decided to be part of the solution. Stewart was adamant that it was not his intention to diminish Dr. King’s legacy or the work he’s done in any way, but simply to acknowledge, simply put, “That’s not all there is to it.”
“I don’t want to speak for people whose experiences I can’t relate to,” Stewart said,” but I hope maybe I can inspire someone to use their voice, or show someone that they have a voice.”
Chauncey Bowden | Staff Writer
At the beginning of the semester Chancellor Woodson released a letter on the NC State website titled “Strengthening Campus Unity.” This letter served as a welcome to students coming back from the winter break. Chancellor Woodson began the letter in typical fashion pointing out that the university is better than ever and “experiencing unprecedented success.
He went on to say that NC State still has issues to overcome, saying, “In particular, we join campuses and communities across the country in an important national conversation about issues of race, religion, intolerance and discrimination — critical matters that in one way or another touch all of our lives.”
Woodson introduces seven initiatives designed to “advance diversity and inclusion at NC State”. These plans have the potential to have incredible influence, if they ever happen. The first initiative states that the chancellor and Provost Arden will work alongside several students, faculty and staff to get their recommendations and hear about their experiences on campus.
Chancellor Woodson says that these meetings have already been scheduled and I hope that these groups take full advantage of this opportunity and truly voice any concerns that they may have. I also hope that the students that he plans to meet with are a good representation of the needs that need to be met on our campus.
Another initiative discusses two programs that will be implemented by the Office of the Provost, the Emerging Scholar Program and the Senior Visiting Scholar Program. According to the letter these programs are “an effort to attract African-American and other underrepresented faculty to NC State.” He also stated that the Council on Undergraduate Education is evaluating ways to ensure that diversity are parts of the NC State curricula.
While I certainly agree with our Chancellor that NC State is experiencing unprecedented success, this success is certainly not always applied across the board. Our university prides itself on its think and do attitude, yet far too often there has not been enough action taken place when addressing issues surrounding race.
It is clear that Chancellor Woodson is aware of the issues pertaining to diversity on this campus. Yet, we all know that awareness is not enough in order to implement change; it is only the starting point.
Students have voiced concerns about the racial climate on campus for years. While this university continues to strive for academic excellence and a relevant space amongst our competitors Duke and Chapel Hill, our diversity initiatives often come across as ingenuine. While these efforts look great on paper, it would have been even better to have Chancellor Woodson address these plans in person at the Racial Climate Town Hall meeting.
Far too often marginalized students have carried the weight in addressing these issues, and honestly, it isn’t their job to do so. As students, our time here is short. While we may be able to start social movements within the four years that we spend here, it is hard to ensure that they continue after we are gone; this is where administration should help.
Chancellor Woodson and the administrators involved in these programs should be held accountable for making sure that these programs come into fruition. It will be nice to see their influence facilitate a healthier racial environment on campus.
Read the Chancellor’s letter here: https://leadership.ncsu.edu/about/chancellor/letters/strengthening-campus-unity/
Jillian Smith | Editor-in-Chief
The National Panhellenic Council has raised over one thousand dollars in the past week to support the citizens of Flint, Michigan who have been consuming chemical laden water for over a year now by providing them with a safer water supply.
Malik Simpson, the President of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and a Special Events Co-Chair for NPHC wrote the proposal for the campaign.
“Everyone knew what was going on and NPHC needed to make a united stand,” said Simpson.
The campaign began on Monday, Feb. 1 and ended on Friday, Feb. 5. It was stationed in Talley Student Union, the perfect location to gain the attention of students and faculty.
The idea of having a “Penny War,” was initiated by NPHC Vice President Aleah Mathis, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. The goal was to encourage organizations outside of NPHC to participate in the campaign.
Six organizations participated alongside NPHC: the Society of Afrikan Culture, the Peer Mentor Program, the Panhellenic Council, the Interfraternity Council, the Order of Omega and Alpha Phi Omega.
Every penny gained the organization one point, and any silver coins or dollar bills resulted in a point deduction. As an incentive, NPHC offered seven free tickets for the Apr. 9 step show to the winning organization.
Sydney Wingate, a junior studying communication, also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. worked the collection table informing students about the state of emergency in Flint and what their donations will be used for.
“We are just hoping to add something to this cause and help people get clean access to in some form,” Wingate said.
The Flint water crisis was the forefront of national news earlier this month when a federal investigation conducted by the U.S. attorney’s office revealed that more than 100,000 people had been receiving the contaminated water from the Flint River instead of from Lake Huron though the Detroit city water system.
Complaints from residents began immediately after the water source was switched. At numerous town hall meetings, the color, clarity, smell and taste of the water was questioned.
The government of Flint attempted to quiet the dissenters with public displays of the water’s safety as well as posters reading “Hey Flint! It is safe to wash!” and “lead in bath water will not
soak into your skin fast or at high levels.” Now that the severity of the situation has been revealed, reports of skin lesions, hair loss, high levels of lead in the blood, vision loss, memory loss, depression and anxiety have surfaced.
“It’s a really really sad situation. We just wanted to do our part here in North Carolina to help out,” said Wingate.
Wingate admitted that she was surprised by students’ enthusiasm and the number of donations given to the cause.
“You get to see the generous side of people, even if they don’t know what’s going on,” she said. The campaign garnered an overwhelmingly positive response from the student body according to Wingate.
The money from the Penny War will go to the Flint Water Fund sponsored by United Way according to Simpson. They will use the donation to buy more bottled water and new water filters for Flint residents.
With this, I challenge you to step outside of your comfort zone to give back what has been given to you. Share your talents, advice, and your lending hands to make sure that you do not leave those behind but bring them right beside you.
Benyame Assefa | Correspondent
Newly appointed Assistant Director, Dawn Morgan, hosted her first art exhibit titled “Soul of Philanthropy: Reframed and Exhibited,” on Wednesday, Feb. 3. Following our last encounter with Ms. Morgan, the event had much build to it’s unveiling.
Kicking off the beginning of Black History Month, Ms. Morgan along with the help of Frances Graham; Director of African American Cultural Center (AACC) coordinated with creators of the exhibit, Valaida Fullwood and Charles Thomas Jr.
Within the context of the exhibit’s name, the meaning behind this project is unveiled.
Philanthropy promotes good welfare and financially supporting individuals. However, this event promotes an idea that financial support isn’t always needed to be philanthropic. “Soul of Philanthropy: Reframed and Exhibited” presents audiences with speakers from NC State, formerly and currently, who were testament of these financial free and personal obligations.
These testaments from fellow Wolfpack members put into perspective the purpose of this exhibit; that philanthropy is deeper than your pockets. Alternatives to going further into debt involved being active in your schools communities, such as volunteering at the AACC building.
“Philanthropy comes from the soul. It’s your heart, your head, and what your hands can do. Your soul is your core,” said Fullwood.
The exhibit involved photography-drawing with lights and aluminum prints. This allowed for the black and white themed photos to illuminate throughout the exhibit in Witherspoon.
Towards the wall of the exhibit hall, a giant chalkboard with the phrase “Why I Give Back” above it. People lined up to explain why it is they give back and as a result this allowed for viewers to engage with the exhibit and be a part of the experience, as the walls filled up with writing.
The Soul of Philanthropy presents students, faculty, and welcomed guest to be a part of an interactive and soulful experience. Further steps made towards engaging viewers involved iPads for people to read up on the exhibit’s various photos.
After years in the making, this project debuted on Feb. 20, 2015.
“V was the brain behind operation. She had the shot list and project in her head the whole time,” said Thomas Jr.
The exhibit is touring and has already stopped in Denver, Houston, Charleston, Raleigh, and another eight locations scheduled for a lesson in what it means to be philanthropic.
“Being the 25th anniversary of AACC, we’re really hoping to have students and faculty engaged all month,” said Graham. Donations are currently being welcomed to the center.
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