The Black Student Union and Lambda Upsilon Lambda presented a black brown solidarity panel Feb. 18 at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. This event was in celebration of Black History Month and was put on to create stronger relationships between minority groups at IU.
Students discussed the divide between minority communities and what can be done here at IU to mend the problem. Many believe there have been tensions between the Latinx and black communities here at IU specifically.
The night was filled with productive, thought-provoking conversations about what it means to be a minority at IU. These conversations are important and more events should be held to bridge gaps between different groups of people.
“I think we give a lot of power to the black-white dynamic trope here at this university,” said Black Student Union President Ky Freeman.
IU minorities could benefit from more unity. More support from other groups of people who are clearly the minority at IU could create a more comfortable and safe environment for everyone.
While this solidarity panel is a positive start, the conversation should not start and end here. Organizations of different racial and ethnic groups should come together for more collaborative events. For example, different cultural centers could partner to create an open space for all minorities to connect.
Many students feel minority groups do not always interact well, despite the school being 6% black and Latinx respectively, according to the 2017-2018 annual diversity report.
One of the first things I noticed as the room began to fill with curious community members at the solidarity panel was that people of different racial and ethnic groups sat with each other. An audience member noticed too, and the subject was brought up.
Several audience members believe people subconsciously sit with people of their group, and that it’s just human nature.
“It's about being familiar with each other,” panel attendee Amaiya Branigan said.
Senior Janai Weeks believes people should break that behavior, and this can be done by being more social overall. She said we as people should be more comfortable going up to a stranger and asking “How was your day?” If people can begin to connect as human beings, there will be more unity.
People also discussed the debate surrounding who experiences more oppression. Often times, minority groups pit their struggles against each other and make comparisons on who has it worse. Attendees discussed the toxicity of this mindset.
“We all have these different cultures but what can we find within each others cultures to connect us,” panelist Brady Valencia said. “Sure they are different but there are commonalities between all of them.”
Weeks additionally brought a slightly cliché way to think about how everyone is the same. When it comes to our blood, whether we are black, white, Latinx or Asian, we all bleed the same. We are all human.
Jaclyn Ferguson (she/her) is a junior studying journalism and African American studies. She is the secretary of the National Association of Black Journalists at IU.