Shawn Fredericks | Correspondent
NC State prides itself on its inclusivity, and I would also champion this idea if it were true. Ladies and gents, I hate to break this awful news to you, but NC State, being a predominately white institution, is not as inclusive as advertised.
During this past weekend, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the 2 Chainz and K Camp homecoming concert. While I did enjoy the festivities, there were some shenanigans that went down that I cannot ignore.
Here at NC State, I am constantly reminded of how privileged–and to be frank, spoiled–people can be, and unfortunately these are the people that NC State caters to, thereby setting the tone of a campus culture that excludes non-whites.
This past weekend, I volunteered at the 2 Chainz concert because I do not pay for events (#thefinessekid). So in my curly head, I decided the job for me to do was stopping people from cutting in line.
Well the privileged folk, who consistently chuckled at my futile attempts to keep order, were having none of that.
Now racial stereotypes would make you think I had to stop black people from cutting the line. But no. They weren’t being drunk and disorderly. It was white people. And mind you, this was all before the concert doors even opened.
During the actual concert, I repeatedly heard the N-word being uttered by white people. I honestly do not feel all white people are bad, and understand that not every white person does this. However, it does not change the fact that it is trendy in the white community to be “edgy” by saying the N-word in environments that bear no consequences.
White people also consistently showed disrespect for black artistry by throwing things on the stage while people were on it. If it was a pop concert, I do not see this happening.
All of this got me to thinking; As a university, how can we claim to be an inclusive campus when people are being excluded, not by any law, but by the conflicting values of campus culture? What I mean to say is, NC State’s administration tells prospective students this is an inclusive campus, but the actual students who belong to the majority that go here as a collective say, “Hell no.”
How are black students specifically supposed to feel included when racial slurs are being said casually in front of them? White people feel very entitled to black culture; they feel the need to twerk, use slang, and use the N-word freely with no respect afforded to the people of said culture, but when actual black people do it, we are depicted in a very disparaging manner, to put it lightly.
Because, let’s be frank, white empowerment always comes from excluding others, whether it’s colonialism, excluding whole populations from basic human rights, or NC State campus culture, which often discourages minorities from being complete members of the community. White people as a collective fail to realize how their actions lead to minorities not feeling included in greater campus culture.
For example, members of our student body felt it was appropriate to host CMT vs. BET parties within the last few years, where white students dress as black stereotypes such as the gangsta. Even last year there was a GroupMe incident where white students felt “uncomfortable” about black students gathering for peaceful protest and joked about bringing a gun.
Looking at the history of this institution, one will not be surprised at the amount of white supremacy on campus.
There’s even our alma mater which speaks about “the winds of dixie” blowing, with “dixie” referencing the Confederacy. It may feel redundant to bring up this simple point, but the Confederacy stands for white supremacy. If we are to be an inclusive environment, how can we reinforce white supremacy with joyous singing of a song that places its roots in the Confederacy?
I believe it is pertinent to highlight how white supremacy is built into the very foundation of NC State, which did not want to admit African American students under the Second Morrill Act of 1890. Instead, they decided to annex Shaw University to be the Agricultural and Mechanical College for the Colored Race, now affectionately known as North Carolina A&T University, which started in Raleigh before moving to Greensboro.
Honestly, I’m not even mad about this fact, because had the white supremacists not done this, GHOE (A&T’s homecoming) would not exist, and I do not want to participate in a reality that does not have GHOE.
The Wolfpack did not want black people then, and looking at our six percent black population, reported by the Office of Institutional Research and Planning, I see begrudging acceptance now. The relationship between this institution and the black community started with dismissal, and now, being actual students on campus, our presence is being dismissed not by any administration, but the actual student body.
That is why initiatives like Diversity Education Week are important. As a public university, NC State is supposed to be for the public as a whole, not just white people. Everyone should feel included on campus no matter their identity; they should feel included in setting the values of the campus they live and learn on.
NC State students should think about our history and do better to make this campus inclusive for all.