The Michigan Times

Who is Black?: A Discussion About Race and Labeling

Patrick Hall, Writer

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Thursday, March 8, a discussion was raised about race at the university. The event was held by the African Student Association (ASA), Black Student Union (BSU), the Muslim Students Association (MSA), and Student Government (SG) to raise questions concerning skin color and prejudices.

Students of all backgrounds formed a circle of chairs, and shared stories and experiences that made this conversation about race worth having. The first thing event facilitators Tracie Currie, Ph.D., and Joyce Piert, Ph.D., asked was how everyone in the room labeled themselves as. The second question? Why does everyone call themselves that specific race or color? After these initial inquires, questions and comments flowed from students.

When listening to the students’ experiences of life as people of color, I saw that we all crave the sweet taste of equality and equity.

“As a black man in America, there are way too many things (that) have been perceived and stereotyped. So, I simply embrace my blackness to almost even it out with negatives in our society to reach for equality,” said Tyler Booker, a computer science major.

Another student described the feeling of “being too white for the black kids and being too black for the white kids.”

This is a problem that too many people of color are used to and what we face, including myself. Many people at the event understood the truth behind this statement, also due to the way we see people being stereotyped, as well.

In March of 2017, the American Psychological Association conducted a study about black men being viewed as more intimidating and bigger  compared to white men of the exact same size. The matter of the fact is that there has been a bias and a view on certain races for so long, and when a person of color transcends the status quo it is a rarity.

The event became an intricate discussion of what we, as a society, actually need to label ourselves as and how can we change the perception of black and white.

“If it is a 10,000 year project, it is still good to start now and work for a solution-based cause to change the level of prejudice,” said Junior Vincent Okoye.

The discussion of race and what we label ourselves as went many ways and down paths that forced conversation of inequality among minorities. The question of the seminar was “who is black?” but the real question was if you claim the connotations held with the color.

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