By Christine Giver
Racism is one of the oldest problems still plaguing this country. There is no denying that we still have a way to go to eradicate it, but the Black Student Union (BSU) is certainly doing its part on campus to promote progress and inclusion. President E-Lexus Thornton spoke about BSU’s work with Ron King, who is the director of the Atomic Program which helps young students.
“What the Black Student Union is doing this year is focusing on tutoring kids, not only here on campus, but in the high schools as well,” Thornton said.
He also spoke of a couple of projects which include buying students SAT cards, teaching them good study habits, and helping them apply for the FAFSA and scholarships. This is extremely beneficial to black students who experience discrimination, as Thornton explained that black students are much more likely to be suspended or expelled than white students.
BSU is committed to fighting racism in the community and promoting understanding, as evidenced by the community forum they held at the Civil Rights Heritage Center in South Bend in September.
“The main goal of that event was solutions and that is purely what we got. It was amazing, honestly,” Thornton said.
He added that he intentionally invited a white student from Notre Dame to be a member of the panel to dispel any criticisms that the forum was just about black people who feel that everybody is racist. There will be a forum each month, with the next one focusing specifically on criminalization.
Senior Trevor Fowler, who is looking to become a more active member of BSU, gave his thoughts on the stereotypical idea of a “Black American”.
“We’re not this copy and paste type of person,” he said, “I think the biggest problem we face is just being misunderstood – in the classroom, in the workplace and just out in society in general.”
A common term we here these days is the idea of ‘whitesplaining’. This refers to white people trying to tell black people how they should feel about racism.
“It does frustrate me a little bit because there’s no empathy in what they’re saying,” Thornton said, “They’re trying to solve problems like everybody else. I just feel like they haven’t done enough research.”
Fowler spoke about the renaissance of black media on television right now. He explained that this is a good thing because it is trying to get people who aren’t used to seeing black people in their everyday life and giving them a window to that world.
Thornton also wanted to emphasize that he does not believe all people are racist, as there are white people fighting for black lives. This was especially represented at the recent community forum.
“It’s just that there aren’t enough,” he said.
What does the BSU president think is the best way to start these conversations and start the healing process?
“I believe that people should come with an open mind. Swallow their pride and come into an open space with an open mind and actually discuss something that you have in common.”
He hopes that, from these discussions, an event or movement will arise that will bring us even closer to understanding and togetherness.
“The Black Student Union is very inclusive,” Fowler added, “White people should just come and join us sometime. You’d be welcome with open arms.”