Shouts of joy are heard while sorority and fraternity members stroll with pride. Happiness is spread across the face of all who crossed their line; a symbol of unity, family and joy in their blackness.
But my mind can’t help but think of how my blackness shouldn’t be on a schedule.
A scheduled time to enjoy my culture is a joke. An ideal day to walk into spaces where my culture is uplifted should be every day, not just on Thursdays from 12:15 p.m. to 1 p.m.
Each day is spent attempting to make the university more diverse and respecting, but the work is never complete. Sit back and think of a space on campus for Latin, Native American, Asian, African and Caribbean, and African American students to unload, enjoy their culture and see familiar faces.
Events are only put into action when a small group of students bears the load and responsibilities to ensure they are represented, and it shouldn’t be this way. Union Unplugged, a 45-minute time slot where you see Black Greek students strolling or maybe a fashion show from the Black Fashion Society, is one of the only dedicated times when African American students can see familiar faces and enjoy each other.
You hear, “I didn’t even know this school had this many Black people,” from freshmen and other students as they see everyone come out. After the alloted 45 minutes, that sense of community and pride is proven to be ever so fleeting, like prematurely dismissing a class on togetherness and identity.
Because you wouldn’t want to disrupt students from class, would you? You wouldn’t want to impose your culture on anyone else, would you?
Integration week was a time to uplift African American students and the trailblazers that came before. After it was over, everything went back to normal. Regularly scheduled programming. No questions were asked as everyone ended the events to highlight Black excellence. A general disinterest could be seen across the face of many students when the significance was mentioned in class.
Because my blackness is put on a schedule. There is a time and place to celebrate my roots and acknowledge my hardships. And as society tells it, I should be grateful for the amount of time I receive.
But this is about more than African American students. This is about the Latino community, Asian community, African and Caribbean community, Native American community, LGBTQ community and other religious communities that aren’t Christianity.
Anyone who lacks characteristics that aren’t seen as often in spaces such as Ole Miss are often forgotten and their culture, beliefs and ideas are placed on a schedule — a schedule that comes around ever so often and the time is expected to be appreciated because it is seen as an honor.
I’ve been told that if I want the Black experience I should go to a Historically Black College or University. But there shouldn’t be a space that isn’t touched by every race, ethnicity, religion and culture.
I refuse to be held to one space, one idea and one way of life. America was established as the melting pot, so where is the combination of ideas, beliefs and cultures? It exists in pockets here and there. The further you traverse, the more homogenous the pot becomes.
Everything that isn’t accepted by society is labeled as incorrect, illiterate, ignorant and placed on a stopwatch when it is acknowledged. It’s time to replace the separation with unity… or at least acknowledgment.
The change begins when everyone is tired. I don’t know about anyone else, but I sure am.
Bre’Anna Coleman is a sophomore political science major from Drew, Miss.