Members of the Black, Brown, and Proud movement. Photo courtesy of Virginia Lyons. Picture by Andres Tejada. 2016.
“We can’t choose to be ignorant anymore. At the end of the day, we can’t turn our back.” In my interview with Black, Brown, and Proud movement member Virginia Lyons, my eyes were opened to many things that forced me to question just how diverse our university really is.
At the MLK Convocation, students in support of the Black, Brown, and Proud movement made their mission known to the campus community. Students in LASO, UAT, MSA, and other clubs in support were also in attendance to rally behind the mission.
The Black, Brown, and Proud (BBP) Movement on campus has been established for everyone. “Black, Brown and Proud means that we’re proud of our culture, and we want the University to be proud of our culture,” says Virginia Lyons. “It is a movement not only for students of color and Latino students, but one for students of every other race on this campus as well. Diversity affects everyone. You may not see it, but it does.”
LASO, MSA, BBP Members, and other student that support BBP fill Vets Hall for the MLK Convoction. Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset. Photo courtesy of Virginia Lyons. Picture by Andres Tejada. 2016.
So, how exactly does it affect everyone? One of the many ways that racism lives on and off campus is through microagressions. Microaggressions are hard to pinpoint, and even harder to educate about, because of their subtle danger. “I wasn’t even educated on what a microaggression was before; I could have been doing so many of them,” Lyons confessed.
Lyons went on to reiterate that just because it’s not outward, obvious racism, doesn’t mean that it’s not there and it doesn’t hurt. “[This issue] affects students of color every day. We feel this every day.” Students of all races can take part in microaggressions such as:
Also, there are institutionalized rules that must be updated in order to promote diversity on campus. One example of this is the core subjects learned within American History. “We don’t want our history to bean elective, we want it to be part of the core. When you make our history an elective…it devalues what we have done in our American society.”
Lyons then asked me how many professors of color I have had while attending Salem State. After quick reflection, I realized that I had none, and was taken aback. She also informed me that there is a high dropout rate for students of color after their sophomore year. The BBP does not want to threaten or hurt anyone through this movement. They simply want you to think and act to get to the root of these issues.
“We don’t want to adjust any more. We want to be accepted.”-
That is just one of many demands that the movement will bring to light once they have completed the construction of their list after conducting important research. They’ve recently had a meeting with the Board of Trustees to discuss their mission. For them, this is just the beginning.
To get involved in this movement, keep an eye out on campus and on social media for focal groups, meeting with University administration, and general body meetings. Contact either Jesse Fermin, Jehovanie Robert, Lucy Kamau, and Virginia Lyons with any questions or to join with them.