In Honor Of Black History Month, Please Tell Me Why There Are So Few Black Students On My Campus

In Honor Of Black History Month, Please Tell Me Why There Are So Few Black Students On My Campus

Yes, I'm Black and no, I'm not an athlete.

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Every day on my campus, hundreds of kids from all over Los Angeles county tour the school. As young as what appears to be ten, these students are given just a glimpse of college life long before even thinking of applying themselves. They stare at us as we walk to class and interact with their friends about who and what they see.

And what do they see? I can imagine their excitement as they load off the bus. College is the equivalent to freedom, by most people's standards. And while I do feel some sense of liberation as I walk the campus I consider home, I am repulsed by the lack of student diversity, particularly Black student presence.

The year is 2019. The school in discussion here is the NUMBER ONE public university in America, the University of California, Los Angeles. I am a proud Black Bruin, but I am one of few. Of the 31,002 undergrads on UCLA's campus, only 1,623 are Black.

I can only imagine the confusion and frustration felt by the young potential Bruins who tour our school each day. A given tour consisting of students from the LA area is more likely diverse than a UCLA lecture hall. As of now, STEM courses are being institutionally directed towards male students and diversity classes tend to be made up of the racial or social group the course is titled after. As an example, of the numerous African American studies courses I've taken, I can easily say more than 95% of each course was made up Black Bruins. Ethnic studies courses are great, but what good do they do when the only people taking the time to educate themselves on other people's cultures are the very people who have been forced to assimilate? Newsflash UCLA, but your ONE SINGLE diversity requirement ain't doin sh*t.

I love UCLA. It has given me a home but frankly, I'm appalled at UCLA's treatment of racial minorities. Just four years ago, a Kanye-Western themed raid hosted by two chapters of the Greek Community turned ugly when students dressed in baggy clothes and padded bottoms, while also using makeup and other materials to alter skin tone and appropriate Black culture. Following severe backlash from the UCLA community, a written statement expressed the intent of the raid's theme was to "celebrate (popular) culture."

My response to that is this: You CANNOT and WILL NOT raid our culture one day, and try to celebrate with us the next.

By the time I came to UCLA, Sy Stokes had graduated, but I hope some young, potential students got to speak with him when they toured the campus during his time as a Bruin. As a Black Bruin, he should be remembered during Black History Month. In a chilling spoken word poem about UCLA's diversity, Stokes reveals glaring statistics about Black male students, or the lack thereof.

UCLA has many amazing feats, not to mention numerous sports achievements. In 2013, UCLA had more NCAA Championships than Black Male freshmen. I'm not against sports. I've been extremely athletic my whole life and I've been to Wooden to workout every day this week. I love belonging to a college community that values athleticism and sports excellence.

BUT, and this is heavy, but (hence the caps), why is UCLA not more racially inclusive towards African Americans?

In 2012, UCLA had 660 African American male students. 429 of them were undergraduate student-athletes. Again, I love sports, but food for thought: what would happen to the Black Bruin population if UCLA had no sports program? I remember when I came to visit campus, almost everyone who looked like me was wearing an athletic backpack. Now in 2019, I am a Black Bruin myself, but I am one of few, and significantly fewer when you don't count the student-athlete population.

I want the kids who come to visit UCLA to feel like they can relate to the students the see and potentially admire on campus. Many students who visit my school have a dream of attending. It was my dream school too. I can imagine the resonance UCLA has on the young kids who visit and tour repeatedly because the school is amazing. Students of all backgrounds should feel represented when they come here.

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The Truth About Young Marriage

Different doesn't mean wrong.
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When I was a kid, I had an exact picture in my mind of what my life was going to look like. I was definitely not the kind of girl who would get married young, before the age of 25, at least.

And let me tell you, I was just as judgmental as that sentence sounds.

I could not wrap my head around people making life-long commitments before they even had an established life. It’s not my fault that I thought this way, because the majority opinion about young marriage in today’s society is not a supportive one. Over the years, it has become the norm to put off marriage until you have an education and an established career. Basically, this means you put off marriage until you learn how to be an adult, instead of using marriage as a foundation to launch into adulthood.

When young couples get married, people will assume that you are having a baby, and they will say that you’re throwing your life away — it’s inevitable.

It’s safe to say that my perspective changed once I signed my marriage certificate at the age of 18. Although marriage is not always easy and getting married at such a young age definitely sets you up for some extra challenges, there is something to be said about entering into marriage and adulthood at the same time.

SEE ALSO: Finding A Husband In College

Getting married young does not mean giving up your dreams. It means having someone dream your dreams with you. When you get lost along the way, and your dreams and goals seem out of reach, it’s having someone there to point you in the right direction and show you the way back. Despite what people are going to tell you, it definitely doesn’t mean that you are going to miss out on all the experiences life has to offer. It simply means that you get to share all of these great adventures with the person you love most in the world.

And trust me, there is nothing better than that. It doesn’t mean that you are already grown up, it means that you have someone to grow with.

You have someone to stick with you through anything from college classes and changing bodies to negative bank account balances.

You have someone to sit on your used furniture with and talk about what you want to do and who you want to be someday.

Then, when someday comes, you get to look back on all of that and realize what a blessing it is to watch someone grow. Even after just one year of marriage, I look back and I am incredibly proud of my husband. I’m proud of the person he has become, and I’m proud of what we have accomplished together. I can’t wait to see what the rest of our lives have in store for us.

“You can drive at 16, go to war at 18, drink at 21, and retire at 65. So who can say what age you have to be to find your one true love?" — One Tree Hill
Cover Image Credit: Sara Donnelli Photography

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To The High School Senior Wishing She Could Fast-Forward To Graduation, Careful What You Wish For

Don't wish this time away.

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As the last stretch of my freshman year of college stands before me, I've been thinking a lot about where I was a year ago today. I've thought about how fast the time has gone, but also how much has happened in that year.

A year ago, I decided what college I was going to and was getting ready to graduate, and honestly counting down the days until graduation. Senior year was almost over, and I couldn't wait to walk across that stage, get my diploma, and FINALLY get to start my real life. However, now that it's a year later I honestly barely remember all those little moments and it feels like literally a world ago when I was in my high school and making my Senior Board full of pictures of my childhood. And part of me wishes that I hadn't wished all that time away.

So, to my high school seniors out there — I encourage you to cherish all the memories you are making. I encourage you to spend time with your parents and savor the meals you have with them and enjoy the conversations where your mom asks all the mom questions about your day, and your dad tells a story from his childhood that you've heard a million times before. I encourage you to appreciate the friends you have, and whether or not you plan to stay friends with them after graduation, be grateful for the time with them in this season and the role that they played in your life.

I ask you to look around your high school, stop and stare at the walls that you've probably been praying to get out of for a few months now and appreciate the memories and times you've had in those buildings. Whether or not high school was a great time for you or a bad time, it was a time of growth and the place where you matured and made mistakes and succeeded.

Seniors, enjoy these last few months because before you know it you'll blink and it will be a year later and you'll be miss those days that you complained about, those teachers you rolled your eyes at, and those friends that you shared that time with.

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