On Tuesday, February 21st I attended the Black Student Union’s showing of the Netflix documentary called 13th. The thought provoking documentary dove into the problematic issues of racial injustices affecting African Americans within the U.S. prison system. I would highly encourage everyone at Fontbonne to view this documentary. While watching this documentary with only about 15 students, I could not help but wish there was a larger turnout at the event. I understand that this event was not publicly promoted with flyers around campus, but news of the event was spread by members of the Black Student Union. After talking to members of BSU, they hosted two film events last year and had some rude students who interrupted the event by talking during the films. This was interesting for me to learn because that Tuesday that BSU hosted the showing of 13th, I tried to spread word of the event to students.
I tried telling everyone I saw on that Tuesday to come to BSU’s event. Unfortunately, upon telling people, I received an enormous amount of white people shifting uncomfortably in their seats and looking down at the ground. They all gave me a very similar answer, “I have homework.” I have come to a conclusion based on my experience being a freshman at Fontbonne. The faculty and staff at Fontbonne may be actively trying to address issues within the realm of diversity, but our student population has a long way to go. During Fontbonne’s expo event where each student organization is presented to the student population, where do students flock to? From my experience, I see students will go to Dance Marathon, Student Government Association, and the Fontbonne Activities Board. Some of these same students will walk quickly past organizations like Fontbonne International Student Association, Black Student Union, and the Latino Hispanic Union. This observation leads me to question if student organizations put diversity as a priority even if they are not a cultural organization.
If you are involved in any student organizations at Fontbonne, I ask you to ponder over these next questions honestly. Look around at the people in your student organizations, how many people of color are there, and are there any international students? Are the presidents and executive board members of these organizations actively supporting cultural events on campus like the International Bazaar and Diversi-TEA?
If you are a white student reading this, please try to realize that I, being a student of color, have a different college experience than you. I am not attempting to start a fight with anyone, I want to bring this “hush hush,” issue quietly discussed by students of color to light. I want future students of color to feel like they have a bigger platform to discuss issues they are facing at Fontbonne. If you are a student of color who relates to my experience, please reach out to me. We need to have more of these conversations, as uncomfortable as some students might become. I want to hear people’s thoughts about this issue. Do you think of it as an issue? If so, how can we as one campus solve this injustice?
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”-Desmond Tutu