The great divide

Last Wednesday night I attended a spoken word by a group of students from Kennesaw State University called Poetica. I was pleasantly surprised at how talented the students were and couldn’t help but feel like I was a little cheated in my college experience.

I graduated from Kennesaw State with my Bachelor of Science in Communication (all that means is that I write but no one is paying me for it. womp womp). When I started there as a freshman, I didn’t know anyone. Somehow I found my way to the CARC (cultural awareness resource center, aka where the Black kids are). Here I’ve bonded with many schoolmates and created lots of friendships and maybe on frenemy. Over all, I thought I had a pretty decent college experience. I partied hard, I sang in the choir (ALTO’S!), I was part of the Haitian Student Alliance, I got free food almost every Tuesday on campus….I mean, who can beat that?! But last Wednesday, I realized what I was missing. Out of the 22,000 plus students at KSU, I didn’t have not ONE real White friend.

Don’t laugh. I’m not. In five years of undergrad, I graduated without having one good White friend. Of course I had classes with them. Most of the times, I never had more than FIVE Black people in my classes. Sometimes that included other non whites as well. I always thought that was strange. But I surrounded myself with the Black people so I got over it.

Out of my 468 friends on Facebook, I only have THREE White friends. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?! There were people I added while in college and delete afterwards because I knew I’d never talk to them again. We only used Facebook to keep in contact for school projects. It seems so sad to me.

As I watched the students perform, I wondered how my outlook on life would be different if from freshman year, I had more White friends. Would I treat people differently? Would I be happier? Would I be well-rounded in other aspects of culture?

As of Spring 2010, the enrollment profiles show that Kennesaw State University out of the 21,925 students, only 15% were Black. I know I’m a minority in America but geez, can I get a little more diversity in school? Not only that but can I get the Blacks and Whites that are there to actually mix? I’m not sure who to blame or if the blame should be placed on myself but it’s like the attempts at diversity are futile, short-lived or not genuine. I don’t want an environment where there are quotas to be filled. I want to be where White and Black people actually like hanging out with each other and will still keep in contact after graduation. I’d like an environment that fosters that sense of community so that upon graduation, students are well equipped to fight pre-existing racial challenges.

What can be done to bridge these gaps??? It’s a great comfort to be around “my people” but it also stifles my growth in the media world. This world is too big to only be surrounded by people who look like you.

You may also like

7 comments

  1. Honestly Luce that number is a lot better than it was when I started at KSU in 2003. More and more black people are starting to realize that KSU is a good school and that it actually exists. As far as having more white friends go, it’s more of a conscious effort. When I started at KSU the first person to get me involved was an Asian in my Spanish class and the organization was KAB. I got a lot of flack from other peers because I didn’t join AASA first, but honestly my first year of school I went to an HBCU and I already knew how to do things with black people. So I made a conscious effort to do things that all of my peers were not doing. Because of that I think I had a pretty holistic experience in school. I was an Area Coordinator for KAB, in LINK, an RA, Pres. of UP council, Asst. Coordinator for ResLife, etc.

    I think part of the problem is that in providing outlets and places for black students to feel more comfortable there is not a lot of talk about working with and getting know their white peers. I think people get so hung up on “sticking with their own” that they forget that at the end of the day we are all people. We have to get over the mentality that all white people are trying to hold us back. Are there bad white people? YES, but there are bad blacks too. I want to teach my kids what my parents taught me. They taught us to see the hearts of people and not merely the color of their skin. I can’t even lie that there have been times where white people on campus have embraced me more than black people during my first two years at KSU. Go figure…

    1. As when I started in 2004. I think it has to do with the area as well. 79% White population is a lot. It was indeed comforting to cling to the CARC.

      I wish I’d participated in more culturally rounded organizations.

      Go figure is right. Sometimes our own people are our worst enemies.

  2. I agree whole-heartedly with the first commenter.

    I’d like to add that we, especially here in GA, separate ourselves along this line of race using oft-imagined differences. This is especially true in college where, in my opinion, people of all colors are the MOST equal, be it in thoughts, politics, lifestyle, or finances. I mean, we’re all at the same school, struggling to study the same subjects, paying the same exact tuition, most of us not financially set. At that point, I’d have to say that people are dividing themselves SOLELY along lines of color and nationality, which is the most absurd thing I’ve ever seen.

    I will say that we are probably all equally guilty. Now, I can only speak for Whites and Black (Asians are on a whole ‘nother level with their exclusivity, it seems), but both sides use ridiculous notions to keep away from each other:

    A) We’re both very conscious of being the only _____ person at a function. ANY function. I’ve had white friends ask me if they were gonna be the only ones somewhere, lol.

    B) We seem to think that having conversation with one another will be awkward. Well…I’ll be honest…sometimes it can be. While White people can appear to be insensitive when asking questions about “Blackness” that they don’t understand, Black people have MASTERED the art of making someone feel like a criminal because they didn’t understand how weave was put in (just an example). We are WAY too defensive as a people. Seriously. Stop the anger. We look self-conscious as a RACE. I need Black people to be a little more patient when helping our paler brethren understand us, and I need White people not to act like things we do are “weird” or “inferior” without understanding them. Some are, some aren’t. Take it or leave it. Either way, the point is, we can talk to one another without it tip-toeing around each other, and see that the conversation will be natural and flow.

    C) This one is on both parts. Nobody wants to be seen “selling out” in front of their peers. For this one, there is nothing we can do until we change our thoughts as a community. As a Black person, I KNOW I’ve been said to “think I’m white” because I hung out with a certain group or (God forbid) spoke with proper enunciation. On the other hand, I’ve heard with my own ears, White people call another person a “whigger” or say they did not like when white people “act black.” I mean, really guys? This is really a no-brainer. You act how you were raised and accordingly with the people you came up around. That’s really what it comes down to. I can show you a dude that looks like Kunta Kinté who sounds and acts no different than “Bob Hartman” from Suburb-ville, U.S.A. Likewise, I’m pretty sure we all know a “Becky” who acted more like a “Shonquita.” They are merely products of their environment, and prove that skin color has very little bearing on our behaviors.

    Atlanta is the hugest mess of a “city” I’ve ever seen. I-20 is LITERALLY our Mason-Dixon line, except instead of the north being free and the south being under Jim Crow law, the north is where the majority of whites live, and the south is where the majority of blacks live. Our major club venues perpetuate this divide in a way that smaller (and in my opinion, more entertaining) clubs don’t. The SAME club will literally have a “White” night on Friday night with a $10-15 cover charge and turn around and have “Black” night on Saturday, of course with the cover boosted by another $10. I mean, we can’t even PARTY together, y’all!!! It’s a mess.

    I think I’m done. I think. I’m supposed to be studying. Good blog post, Lucy.

  3. Next message copied and pasted from FB:

    Nicole A. Phillips
    Ok, so I just read your blog (which by the way, I love).

    I can tell you (and you know everything I’m about to say is in love) that every student has a change to navigate his or her own experiences and relationships. If you ever received a m…essage from any university officials that discouraged your interactions with students who are different than yourself, then you can blame the university for not cultivating an environment that is more stimulating of diversity. However, as an agent of the university, I can tell you that as much as many of us encourage students to collaborate and network with people of diverse backgrounds, most students continue to stick to their comfort zone of sticking with people with whom they have the most in common. This is disconcerting to many of us. However, I suppose we are no match for basic human nature for people to gravitate to the familiar. The best we can hope to do is shape the environment in a way that students will want to engage beyond racial and cultural lines. I think KSU does try to do that.

    I had a far more diverse group of friends than I do now and I am ashamed. However, as an undergrad, when I sought friendships, they were based on common interests and experiences; growing up in Los Angeles, the cool thing was that I found many of my likes were shared by people across color and cultural lines. We could also talk more openly about our differences and similarities and be cool at the end of the day.

    Ultimately, it is up to each of us to look at ourselves first and look at the choices we make. As a student, you had (and still do) the right to make decisions in your academic, personal, and professional interests. Hence, if you didn’t get a well-rounded diversity experience, it would be good to consider what choices you made that did not facilitate that happening; unless, as I said before, you were discouraged or the environment of the campus didn’t lend itself to students engaging in socially diverse experiences.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts. I’ll look forward to hearing your response if you choose. If not, keep up the good work with the blogging! Have you considered being a columnist?
    4 hours ago · LikeUnlike

  4. My response:

    Lucy Pearl Dazilma Thanks Ms Nicole!

    If you don’t mind, I want to post all that you wrote on my actual blog. I’ll make sure to credit you 🙂

    I think I didn’t seek out the White crowd at our school because I never felt that there was a GENUINE interest to be my …friend outside of class. It was always hi or bye. Or if I tried to hold a longer conversation, the interest would only go so far. I never felt that they actually wanted to be friends. Whereas with the Black people, they embraced you almost immediately as if they already knew my plight.

    So I think over the years I just settled in my mind that there’s just a divide. They’ll only be friends long enough to complete an assignment and then go back to hanging out with their friends. I would be SHOCKED if one of them said, “Hey Lucy, wanna have lunch?”. You mean outside of The Commons? It never naturally happened.

    The three White friends that I do have on my Facebook page are the sweetest people ever and that’s why they are still there.

    But now that I’m not in college, I’m still in that place. I don’t want to force a connection but why is that distance there? It bothers me that the only friendships I have are with Black people. But I don’t want to force someone to be my friend if they aren’t interested.

    I still try though because I can’t imagine a world where we’re all divided. That’s not what Heaven is going to be like so why can’t we practice now?

    Because of social media, I’m making more connections that I wouldn’t have just hanging around the same people, doing the same things. One of the things I like about social media. It made me realize what you said: common interests. And thankfully a lot of things that I’m interested in (nonprofit/charity/empowering young girls) are things that other people are interested in as well.

    It’s all a learning experience. An eye opener as well.

    A columnist? No I haven’t considered it. I blog for a few sites but that’s it.

    Thank you so much for replying!!!
    about an hour ago · LikeUnlike

Leave a Reply