Think of the words black excellence and what comes to mind? Maybe it makes you think about my blog post last week or the poem I posted on Monday. Or at Howard University, it not only defines the pride of the student body, but also the truth of how excellent each and every student there is, from their academics to their talents. But what does it mean here at Cal Poly?
What does it mean for me?
Here at Cal Poly, as 1/240, the words black excellence mean representation. Sitting in my cultural Kinesiology class on Monday, we did an exercise on privilege throughout the classes demographic. The rules were simple: Take a look at the list in front of you, from not hearing racial slurs towards you to living as a majority, and add one for each that fits, subtract one for each that does not. As my class went outside and demonstrated out numbers by stepping off of a line together, the gap in our equality was unmistakable.
I took 15 steps back. The one person that far back with me? The only other African American in my class.
This is what I don’t think we emphasize enough here at Cal Poly. We are told to celebrate our similarities in that we are all here and getting a good education, but what about our differences? What about the things that make each and every one of us unique? This campus claims to be diverse, but I only see that in the sexuality of its student body. We are still a majority white campus, not to say this campus isn’t full of brilliant minds, but it’s hard to look around and know that I can count the number of black people from all of my classes this year on one hand.
There is something missing.
I believe in the beauty of diversity, of all different people from different backgrounds and different cultures striving to come together and create a better future in this world. There is something so different about a group of people who all think differently or have experienced a seperate lifestyle from one another— the ideas that can come out of a group like that, it just might change the world.
Yet I don’t know when that kind of change will happen, not when there are only 240 of us here to attempt that change at such a well reputable University. We can’t do this on our own, nevertheless it seems that nothing is changing. What about the rest of the brilliant minds who never got the chance to go to college? Or those caught up in the trials of life, too busy taking care of families and getting food on the table to even consider going back to school? We all come from different walks of life, different cultures, ethnicities, and opportunities. In a school where we take pride in our “diversity” and a world where it seems we will become the change that generations have been waiting for, I have to wonder what kind of difference we can possibly make when everyone is on the same page only because the majority is writing the book.
There has to be more than this.
In a world where tomorrow seems like it is in our hands, yet so far away at the same time, this idea leaves me restless in wondering what is to come. I can only hope it will be a brighter future than any one of us could imagine. In a quote by Maya Angelou, “It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” This world is one of beauty, from both the people in it to the capabilities we all hold. Tomorrow is another day, another opportunity to change this world we live in. Maybe if we’re lucky, if we can play our cards right, the words black excellence can mean more than a minority here at Cal Poly.