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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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By Ella Mitchell, Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

Sydney McKinley: Why we should see more white students at ‘All Black Everything’

White students need an experience that minorities feel almost every day: sitting in a room full of people who don’t look like you.

GW’s Black Heritage Celebration is upon us, kicking off Wednesday with a keynote address by the founder of “Black Girls Rock,” a mentoring program for young women of color. While these events are undoubtedly aimed at bringing the black student population together, non-black students like myself shouldn’t simply write them off.

It is understandable that white students may not feel welcome at a series of events called “All Black Everything.” But it is important to remember that it is not the responsibility of the Multicultural Student Services Center to make these events palatable to white people – and they shouldn’t.

White people are often fed an easy-to-swallow, white-washed perspective on racial issues. The way I see it, we should appreciate this week the genuine and raw discussions that have the real capacity to challenge our perspectives.

While GW touts a reputation of producing “global citizens” and many students on this campus pride themselves on their liberal understanding and awareness of the world, many of our discussions occur within isolated and homogeneous environments. When dealing with a topic such as race, where personal experiences play such an important role, meaningful interaction is essential.

White students aren’t accustomed to being the minority in the room, particularly on this campus. This is due in part to the racial makeup of our school, but the phenomenon is also largely exacerbated by the nature of our social circles.

This week, as we are presented with the opportunity to participate in the educational and celebratory events on race hosted by multicultural groups on campus, that can change.

Here’s the thing: The racial dialogue on this campus is already thriving – but only within certain circles. It’s not just enough to have a diverse student body. There must be genuine and meaningful interaction.

It is important to understand that racial issues affect us all. White people on this campus, including me, just have the privilege of remaining largely unaware and unaffected by them. For example, white students hardly need to face negative stereotyping and tokenism, harmful realities that come with being a minority on a predominantly white campus.

So join this Thursday’s event entitled “Colored Lines,” a discussion on interracial interactions and the “impact of race relationships in different aspects of daily life.” Spend Feb. 22 at Soul Revue cheering on your fellow students as they take the stage to recreate some of the greatest music videos of all time.

We all play a part in shaping the culture around race – so get involved in the upcoming weeks. If you feel self-conscious in a way you are unaccustomed to, that’s good. It is in these moments of discomfort that we learn the most.

Sydney McKinley is a junior majoring in political science and sociology.

This post was updated Feb. 3 at 4:24 p.m. to reflect the following:
Correction appended
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the event, Soul Revue, is Feb. 15, but it is in fact Feb. 22. We regret this error.

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