Students at Yale University are currently pondering over this question through an online project titled Yale Blackness, which was launched this February by the Black Student Alliance at Yale (BSAY), an organization birthed in 1969 with the goals of enhancing Black student life through political and community action. According to Albert McWilliams, current President of BSAY, the goal of the blog is not to focus on negative outlooks in their collective social space, but rather to inspire thoughtful discussion on the state of the black community on their campus and beyond.
“The purpose of the ‘Yale Blackness’ project is to give Yale students a medium to offer their thoughts on race and culture at Yale University and to motivate students to actively improve race relations,” McWilliams said. “Like many organizations on campus, the Black Student Alliance at Yale (BSAY) recognizes the potential for ‘new media’ to begin a dialogue on racial dynamics on college campuses. Anonymity is a powerful tool, and when used appropriately and respectfully, it can provoke students to offer powerful insight.”
Yale students have been asked to submit anonymous descriptions in 50 words of less with their perceptions and personal reflections of the black community on campus. More than 150 responses have been submitted to the blog, with 5 to 7 posts being updated on the site daily.
Responses have varied, with some controversial in nature and others insightful:
“It seems that the black community at Yale is very tight; so much that black freshman practice self-segregation and are planning to form a ‘black colony’. This being said they are in a sense becoming “cliquey” to the point where they are nice to non-blacks, but not necessarily open to them. Lastly to comment on black academic life, the majority of black take traditionally easy classes and majors because they cannot take the rigor of other classes or are lethargic, but that is not to say all black people are thus at Yale, just many whom I am acquainted with.”
There are thoughts on love:
“Finding a date for a black chick is…difficult to say the least.”
And others remain complacent:
“I’m a bit skeptical about Yale’s commitment to diversity (take a head count in your next class). Also, don’t be fooled –there’s still racism at Yale. I know plenty of students who think, ‘Oh, she probably got in because she’s black.’ That’s disgusting, but it happens.”
These points of inquiry are not only localized at one private university. What can be agreed is that several of the concepts raised by Yale students are sentiments that are shared by students who attend other institutions as well, and are indeed part of a situation that college students nation-wide may ponder each day: how do black students negotiate the idea or state of blackness each day at their respective campuses?
To read more about the project, visit http://yaleblackness.tumblr.com/