By Michael Diambri, Columnist
February is Black History Month, and although the Black Student Union and the Diversity Center have made efforts to promote inquiry about black history during February, little is being done by Pacific Lutheran University to celebrate it.
“Out of the whole year we have a short month to have African-American history recognized” said first-year Quenessa Long. “This is a time to promote a positive understanding of African-Americans.”
Unfortunately, the history most people think is adequate enough to understand is the history of the ruling class. The history of oppressed groups often remains in the shadows of the historical landscape. But without understanding their history, we can’t claim to have an accurate understanding of the past.
Since there is a month dedicated to black history, as Lutes who encourage thoughtful inquiry and community acceptance, we need to advocate the importance of studying the histories of various cultures and people groups.
The Black Student Union will have panels this month and various other activities.
“If it wasn’t for BSU [Black Student Union], the Diversity Center, or Black History Month, this university would have almost no recognition of African-American culture, and for other people of color,” Long said. “There is a three percent African-American population at this school… and dropping.”
If PLU believes in the importance of diversity, there needs to be a promotion of understanding other cultures that goes beyond having a Diversity Center and constantly saying that we are “all-inclusive.”
Black History Month is the best time of the year to do this.
The university supports the understanding of other cultures, but PLU isn’t bringing in a diverse population of students, or doing more than stating that diversity is important.
PLU uses its identity as a liberal arts school to say students develop a well-rounded understanding of the importance of diversity in perspective, practice and place. But taking a class or watching “Selma” does not mean you are supporting and understanding the importance of black history.
Additionally, if we limit our knowledge of black history to the perpetuated idea that black history is restricted to slavery, civil rights and entertainment, we limit the importance of African-Americans in our communities. History is a way of understanding importance.
There is so much more the university could do. If PLU wants to retain and develop its identity as a diverse and engaging university, there needs to be a breakthrough of thoughtful inquiry about black history.
For instance, the drama department could put on a production of plays written by African-Americans. The history department could bring in lecturers or start a conference about African-American history. The art department could highlight Black History Month with a display of African art.
The business department could try to get successful African American business men and women to come and discuss what it is like to be a minority in the world of business today.
Many people are making efforts to appreciate black history, but they can’t do it alone.
Yes, finances are tight, but this university needs to abide by and promote its mission statement to “educate students for lives of thoughtful inquiry, service, leadership, and care – for other persons, for their communities and for the earth.”
Black History Month is important, and there needs to be more done to foster it across-the-board at PLU.