—–That’s 30+ classes, 30+ professors that I’ve been exposed to and only TWO were black women…
Now, as a senior at James Madison University who has been an advocate for diversity and deeply involved in the Center for Multicultural Student Services, the lack of diversity on this campus isn’t a new topic for me. Quite frankly, with my academic career winding down, it’s becoming a bit tiring. We often talk about the lack of diversity in JMU’s student body but we rarely talk about the EXTREME lack of diversity in administration and faculty.
So what’s being done about it?
One thing, which I can commend JMU on, is the annual conference under the Africana Studies department called Black Women in Academia. The conference addresses “the low number of black women on college/university campuses and seeks to identify common experiences, identify strategies for success, and support women in higher education”. I’ve attended this conference twice now and both times I’ve been beyond moved and inspired. The number of black women sharing their experiences and allowing me to share mine, as well as giving me hope and support, made me feel as though my struggle was valid. Sometimes when you’re constantly advocating for something and not seeing much of a change it can wear you down. It can make you question whether or not your cause is worth fighting here, and the support I received gave me the push to continue speaking out and wanting to see actual change. The Black Women in Academia Conference provided a strong, reassuring community.
But what else? That conference is once a year, is that the limit? We need more conferences and more programs that support women of color on this campus. One conference isn’t enough to make me compliant. I WANT MORE. The women of color on this campus deserve more, they deserve to be represented.
Earlier this week the wonderful @gldnfortress posted a blog giving us a synopsis of the phenomenal Dr. Brittney Cooper’s message on JMU’s campus during the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.Celebration Week Formal Program.
–Make sure you go check that out!
Dr. Cooper’s entire message was groundbreaking and confrontational and it’s exactly what James Madison University needs. We have amazing programs (oftentimes spearheaded by overworked, dedicated students but we’ll talk about that another day), that address the issues of diversity on campus, but how much talking and planning can we as students do without being heard?
It’s time to shake some tables. Dr. Cooper’s message should’ve put a fire under our administration. I want to see myself represented not just in the student body but in faculty and staff. It’s time for us to see this change.