As I reflect on this topic, many thoughts come to mind such as there are those who believe that we live in colorblind society. And yet, I know that people still see color when they refuse to come to programs because they see the word “Black” on the flyer, yet they are willing to go to similar programs that are put on by other organizations. The problem is not that they attend those programs, but that they will not give the “black” program a chance because they believe that they will feel uncomfortable. Honestly, I believe that being uncomfortable is sometimes a good thing because it makes you more aware of what is going on around you. Moreover, you are more likely to inquire about what is happening to gain a more full understanding.
Some question the need for racial and multicultural organizations such as the Black Student Association of which I am the president. I think about how it is somewhat challenging to get people to attend our programming because they believe that B.S.A. is “not for them”. This is one of the most untrue misconceptions that people at Xavier have about the Black Student Association. Within the B.S.A. constitution, it explicitly states that the organization is open to all Xavier students. Membership is not predicated upon the color of one’s skin. As Dr. King famously stated, the judgment of a man should not be based upon skin color, but rather on character. That is racial justice. Thus, excluding a huge proportion of the student body from our programs would be counter intuitive to the mission and purpose of the organization.
Nonetheless, B.S.A. must remain true to its mission and purpose to be a forum to talk about issues that affect the black community and to build a strong Black identity on a predominantly white campus. This too is racial justice because the black community was oppressed for about 350 years under slavery and Jim Crow. Furthermore, there is a distinctive “Black” culture and history in the U.S. This is not to suggest that every “black” person identifies with it. Moreover, there are some people who are not phenotypically black-skinned that partake in it. Accordingly, those who challenge themselves to be the odd man in a foreign group have a better chance to understand and show justice toward others than those who judge from the outside. Thus, I work towards racial justice on our campus by being comfortable in representing our organization in its truest form, while allowing others the opportunity to come and share in the experience.
Chances are, most days, you won’t be able to track down Lauren White and campus because he has a unique talent for being many places at once. At least, it seems that way. Lauren is a junior political science major, president of BSA, student worker for the CFJ, member of the Ecumenical Team and a minister in his church. He was also the Dorothy Day’er of the Month for February, because of his outstanding performance in the Great Debate (team is pictured, Lauren is in the middle). Like I said, just try to track him down.