No justice, no peace: four words that make a statement against the inconsistency of the system.
Last week, Black students of VCU commanded respect and tremendous attention when they demanded answers and action from VCU President Michael Rao on issues of true diversity and minority inclusion. The news spread like wildfire across all forums of social media and print. For the first time in a long time, if ever, minority students were being recognized for their tireless efforts to be respected on campus.
On Nov. 18, President Rao hosted a forum to discuss the issues of diversity and inclusion on VCU campus.
In September., I wrote a story titled “Diversity suffers under whitewashed and western inspired classes,” outlining the lack of minority faculty, classes and students at VCU. It spoke of the issues members of “Black VCU Speaks” put into action. It is never enough to talk about it, something must be done about it. In order to appeal to members of the community, action must be taken. It is never enough to simply say you recognize and acknowledge the problem until you can prove you are doing something to change it.
Blacks have been demanding justice in exchange peace for centuries. Booker T. Washington said in an address to Southern people “It is all very well to talk of the Negro’s immortality and illiteracy… but until the same course is pursued with the immoral and illiterate white Southerner that is pursued with the Negro, there will be no peace in that section. Ignorance is as harmful in one race as in another.”
Black students at VCU are tired of the bull shit. It is tiring having to deal with the oppression and discrimination of the real world. Then you have to go to class — a “safe space” for education — and have your white male teacher tell you your work, thoughts and actions are not adequate because they are not in line with his thinking.
All minority students can empathize with the demands made by “Black VCU Speaks” as we are tired of the biased perspectives of westernized courses. We want to be taught not only by our race, but the races of those that match our peers.
As an English major, my curriculum is extremely narrow. Two pre-1700 literature courses and two 1700-1945 literature courses are mandatory requirements for the curriculum. The selection of courses includes of a majority of western-influenced courses with the exception of two African American literature courses covering “the beginnings through the Harlem Renaissance” and “Realism to the Present.” My discipline should not be that narrow if I choose otherwise. And if the courses of my choice aren’t up for debate, at least give me a teacher other than a white male to cover western philosophies — minority professors are just as educated in Milton and Shakespeare as white professors.
Rao told students and faculty that he hopes to work on increasing the lines of communication between students, faculty and staff regarding university initiatives. However, I still question when something will be done. Many members of the student and faculty population expressed they have been discussing these issues for years. If Rao’s statement, “‘When is yesterday, because the urgency is more than some might grasp,” is true, we should see change within the next semester. Course curriculum requirements, as well as minority faculty and staff should change drastically to accommodate to the demands to the masses.
Opinion Editor, Monica Houston
Monica is a transfer student from Norfolk State University studying English. Her dog, Furby, is an in-office celebrity and frequently attends production and meetings with Monica.