Indiana Daily Student

Black Voices: IU explained by a graduating Black senior

My experience at IU was interesting. I came from Indianapolis, so coming here was a culture shock. I was not used to being around so many white people who weren’t familiar with people of color. White people who didn’t know or didn’t want to treat me with respect.

Through the 2018 Groups Scholars Program, I gained a sense of belonging in an isolating environment. Here at IU, I experienced both allies and racists, ignorance and understanding. To those who don’t know, as a white woman, you can compliment my hair without needing to touch it. You do not need to trauma compete with me: your diabetes, poor upbringing, or sexual orientation is not similar to what life is like to be Black. I’m not your “sis.” IU is the place in which I felt the most Black. Interactions like this made my experience at times tiresome.

Being a studio art major was one of my favorite parts of IU. It was overlooked by the university, but I met some of the most hardworking, determined and creative students here. I’ve pulled all-nighters and 5 a.m. bedtimes, finished massive projects and learned skills quicker than Kelley students could say “Mark Cuban.”

Professors like Caleb Weintraub, Tim Kennedy and other faculty deserve all the praise. They raised us and provided the ears and shoulders we needed as we grew. I wouldn’t be the artist I am today without them. I’m grateful to have had the space and opportunity to learn all I could.

I also enjoyed working for Black Voices. I’m proud to see how far it’s come and how hard we’ve fought against racism and censorship. Because of Black Voices, Black creatives can tell our truths about the lives we lead, and I’m honored that I could be a part of that.

If I could address all of IU and its directors I’d like to say a few things.

Stop requiring art students to take math unless it’s needed for entrepreneurship and helpful for taxes. I don’t need it and you don’t have the math department to teach it. Too many people fail because of inadequate teaching. 

Stop using Black and students of color for diversity clout if you’re not going to listen, support, protect and admit them here directly. 

Lastly, without art majors, no one would be able to market or sell anything. There’d be no Kelley, no SPEA, no Jacobs, no IDS, no Media School — no IU. We’re more than demo paintings of classroom items.

College also taught me to be myself, stand up for what is right and, as cliche as it sounds, stay true to what I believe in. 

To the incoming freshmen, especially Black freshmen: be yourself fearlessly. Find Black spaces and use them. Do things early and often. Make connections with your teachers and advisors, and they will look out for you and guide you. Lastly, you may be the first in your family to go to college, to get a 4.0 GPA, to one day graduate college, or one day do your career. But remember that even if you’re the first, you won’t be the last.

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