Blacks overcome multiple hardships


Last winter, Martin Luther King III came to SDSU to talk to students about racial and diversity issues. During his speech, King commented that the only diversity South Dakota has is in cows.

Although King overlooked South Dakota’s Native American population, he has a point when it comes to blacks.

SDSU has an enrollment of nearly 11,000, but a small percentage of black students. In fact, South Dakota as a state has one of the lowest percentages of blacks in the U.S.

It is evident that some South Dakotans have a racist attitude towards blacks. That is in part because they don’t have much interaction with blacks.

The state’s black population is so low that it is a rare occurrence to see a black in public.

Some South Dakotans, especially those from small towns, are astonished when they see a black in the mall or walking down the street.

Some South Dakotans aren’t sure how to act around blacks. Some people just gawk, not knowing what to do around someone different than them.

This kind of environment is not easy for blacks to come into, especially students. Some students have never been around a blacks and are afraid to make encounters with blacks. They are scared of how they talk and act, because it’s completely different from the language and actions they grew up around.

The black students at SDSU have gone through a lot to be here. They have to work and live with students who don’t understand them and can’t relate to them. They have to stand alone and they know what it feels like to “stand out like a sore thumb.”

It takes a lot of courage to attend a college in a state that isn’t used to blacks and in which blacks are an extreme minority. It can’t be easy to be surrounded by white students. And it must be frustrating when other students have no idea where you are coming from on your ideas and opinions.

But these students do it graciously. They don’t get angry when asked to repeat something and or explain a certain action or article of clothing. These students are proud of where they come from and don’t hide it.

They came to South Dakota with a purpose, a goal. There was something at SDSU that was more important than skin color and ethnic boundaries. And for all that they have overcome to accomplish their desires, they are truly remarkable.

The blacks at SDSU are courageous, tolerant and patients. They are also inspirational. They teach students that it is okay to be different and to not be afraid to chase after your dreams in an un-accepting environment.

This also goes for all international students.

That is why groups like the Black Student Alliance and other organizations designed for international students are imperative to the university. These groups are made of up students who came to this university and want to add diversity to it. They devote themselves to teaching other students about their cultures.

The students in these organizations enjoy teaching students about their cultures. Their faces light up when talking about their culture. They know that many SDSU students are unfamiliar about the world’s different cultures and are excited and willing to teach them.

It’s important that other students get involved in these programs. This world is made up of several different kinds of people and students, as future leaders of society, should take the time to interact with students from other cultures. By doing this, SDSU students can work toward lessening culture gaps.

In celebration of Black History Month, there are numerous activities devoted to educating students about black culture. These activities show several aspects of the culture including cuisine, step and drill and art. Most of these events are free and open to the public.

Take the time to learn about the culture and history of your fellow black students. They know about yours, so it’s only fair you know theirs.