None of this should be new to us.
In our senior year of high school, when we — African-American Elon University students — met with our college counselors, we should have known what to expect. If we saw the demographics, we knew we would be the minority. If we wanted something different, there are plenty of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) within driving distance between Greensboro, Winston-Salem and Durham. By agreeing to come to Elon, we agreed to endure all the trials that came with it. And we have the power to create our own experience. We can choose if it’s positive or negative. This edition hopefully higlights our progress and looks ahead to our future.
I can’t lie. I had my reservations about publishing this edition. Journalists are supposed to be unbiased, and releasing a Black History Month edition under a black editor could raise some suspicion.
But my race shouldn’t be a factor. If I am the only Pendulum editor to think of doing this, than so be it. As the saying goes, “Black History is American History.” Black history is Elon history, too.
There’s no secret that Elon has had its troubles with inclusivity. I can point to last spring’s incidents, and as far as I’ve seen, there are documented incidents of racial slurs as far back as 2011. It’s something plaguing the country as a whole — ranging from the White House, to Hollywood, to other universities. But because Elon’s community is so small and so tight knit, seeing this problem here means more to all of us because it affects our daily lives.
Before he died in 2015, Demitri Allison was one of the reasons I felt at home at Elon my first semester. During the summer before my freshman year, we texted about a lot of things, from what I should pack to what was the best dining hall for food. When I asked him about the racial makeup of Elon, he was honest with me.
“The black community is small, but we stick together,” he said.
Two years later, now that I am on the other side of being an upperclassman, he was right. Black Elon is something I will always remember about my college experience. The community has given me lifelong friends and mentors. Kenn Gaither, associate dean of the School of Communications and Randy Williams, associate vice president for campus engagement, have given me countless nuggets of wisdom and are daily reminders that you can be successful while being a black man in this country. But more than anything, seeing the success of my black student peers is more motivating than anything. That’s even more of the case in recent years.
Every year, the Black Excellence Awards highlights the academic success of African-American Students. SGA’s Executive President is black, and is also the second black woman to hold that title in Elon’s history. The Black Student Union president is a sophomore, a position usually held for older students. And there are a host of other things I could list.
When I look at the Black community at Elon this year, I see ambition.
This Black History Month, take time to educate yourself and get outside your comfort zone. You have so many events to chose from. And as this edition will show you, African-American life spans all areas of Elon, ranging from the administration, to places of worship, to athletics.
It’s important to understand their stories in order to improve our stake as a university. If we work to enhance the experience of marginalized groups on campus, the school as a whole will follow suit.
Like I said, we knew what we were signing up for. And even though it is challenging at times, we are making the most of it.