By Gabrielle Miller
Black student activism often goes unrecognized. This tactic to bury their work creates an understanding of how close the past stands near us. Black students at the University of Iowa have been silenced. Not because they are weak, but because administrators have dictated their success. They have pushed them into the shadows of darkness ceasing for their narrative to be told. However, today it shall be awakened. The silenced truth must be reclaimed.
At the University of Iowa, Black students are suffocated by injustice, and still they manage to be survivors of it all. Though, problematically, the thought of change is to diagnose Black students as if they are the root of the issue. This illustrates how unqualified and ill-equipped administrators are to demonstrate inclusive and diverse communities. As a result, Black students become their own superheroes, because administrators are too afraid to put on the cape that they get paid to wear.
So yes, it’s true that Black students had to advocate for themselves in order for a home away from home to be produced for other identifying Black students in the future. Last summer, Black students began to orchestrate a Living Learning Community (LLC), Young, Gifted, and Black (YGB), where their needs and well-being would be priorities. Black students developed an alternative institutional infrastructure. This was their craft. Yet, administrators and faculty have tokenized and co-opted their product in order to create this false ideology that they, faculty and administrators, hold the key to success.
Why is it that we are standing so close to the past? When will the activism of Black individuals be acknowledged? When will their work be sufficient enough? University of Iowa, where is your appreciation for the voices of your Black students? Our voices will not be excluded. We will be recognized for developing this LLC. Anything other than this will be an act of diminishment. Anything other than the simplistic demands below will jeopardize the future communities of Black students, while paralyzing the advancement of their growth. No, it is not segregation. No, it is not discrimination. It is a way for Black students to be able to fully thrive, as the institutional co-optation has only been a hindrance to their growth. Therefore, do not be a part of why Black students continue to be disenfranchised at UIowa.
Without acknowledging the brilliance and success of Black students, then there shall be an upheaval to reclaim the accomplishments that we have pushed. Black students will #ReclaimYGB, unapologetically. WE WILL RECLAIM UIOWA!
Thus, we reassert the mandatory details of the Young, Gifted, and Black LLC:
1. It was founded by Black students.Not faculty.Not staff.Let the record always show.
2. It will consist of Black students: only, now, and forever.
3. It will only have a Black RA, who we will ultimately choose.
4. It will be in Slater Residence Hall, which is the cheapest residence hall with pod bathrooms.
a. Our LLC is inclusive of all Black students, so it needed to be in a building where trans* and gender non-conforming Black students could feel safe.Other buildings had pod bathrooms, but were more expensive.This LLC is inclusive of poor Black students.
5. It will—or will not—be affiliated with academic department(s) of our choosing.We choose any related courses.
6. All marketing, in print, web, or otherwise, must attribute the founding of YGB, the first student-founded and led LLC at the University of Iowa, to Black students.
Gabrielle is a Junior at the University of Iowa