For some reason in this country, we’ve shifted in reverse.
A once-segregated nation came increasingly together in part due to a revolution led by a man who believed in unity and judgement according to character, not skin color.
Now, as you may have observed, front-and-center voices are calling for a return to being apart.
And it seems race is again considered a legitimate way by which to view others and oneself.
Such might be called the case at New York University, for which a student group’s petition plans for Black-only residence floors.
Organization “Black Violets NYU” is pushing for a “themed engagement community.”
According to BV, here’s how it’d work:
“Like any other themed engagement floor at NYU, students will have to submit a written statement as to why they would like to live on the floor, which will then either be accepted or rejected on a factor no other than their statement.”
From the “Why” section of the Change.org page:
The creators of this petition were fortunate enough to be paired together freshman year. Through our personal experience, we recognize the value of living with another Black student and having a safe space where we felt free to express ourselves to the highest degree. Too often in the classroom and in residential life, black students bear the brunt of educating their uninformed peers about racism. This assumed responsibility is exhausting and undoubtedly unfair to NYU’s black community. Black students should not be forced to do the labor of explaining cultural touchstones (like hair rituals) and advocating for their humanity within their own homes. There is not one space on campus entirely dedicated to Black student life. Black Lives Matter cannot be reduced to a slogan sent in university-wide emails. Now is the time for NYU to create tangible change to support its Black students. We are hoping that Black Living communities can spark a new effort towards comprehensive Black inclusion across NYU.
The Violets told Fox News that, without the residence respite, things are difficult:
“NYU is a predominantly white institution, making it very difficult for Black students to connect or find community, especially when incidents involving racism occur. It is not about exclusion, but rather creating a space where Black students can feel included.”
But not everyone’s in favor of the split.
Count Karsten Schneider, a writer for World Socialist Web Site, among them:
There is nothing progressive about the establishment of racially segregated housing at NYU. It is irrelevant whether the segregation being implemented is voluntary or mandatory. Racial segregation, in all forms, is entirely reactionary.
Per Karsten, the petition began two months ago and has nearly 1,100 signatures. That’s a little more than 1/26 of the college’s enlistment.
And Black Violets have a point, as relayed by Fox:
“Marginalized groups” like queer students and international students already have access to such floors, Black Violets told [FNC] in a statement.
And they don’t just want separate housing.
More from FNC:
Black Violets is pushing for other reforms, including that NYU hire Black professors in its politics department and create a Black student lounge on campus. The latter goal may be moot because of the coronavirus pandemic, but Black Violets told Fox News the pandemic will not delay their push for a Black themed engagement floor.
And here’s perhaps bigger news: The university is open to accommodating them.
As reported by Fox, “New York University officials signaled they are open to a student group’s demands to create Black residence floors on campus next year.”
In July, BV founder Nia Robinson told Washington Square News it’s all about equity:
“With all that is going on this summer and NYU itself having their own instances of racism, they continue to send out these blanket statements about scholarships and Juneteenth and changing their banner black for Black Lives Matter. But they still do not make the university equitable or make the structural changes we as Black students have been asking for.”
Speaking more broadly than a petition at a college for housing, it seems to me that unity can’t be achieved by the complete opposite. And if division were an entree, the United States is presently a Golden Corral — you name it, we’ve got it.
And we’re not better for it.
The seams of the country are tearing apart. We need to come together.
At NYU, and everywhere else.
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