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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

BCC discusses black experience at Grinnell


bcc-jeff-liThe Black Cultural Center (BCC) held a discussion called “POC at a PWI” on Thursday. The discussion was led by Laika Lewis ’17 and Jordan Brooks, Assistant Director of Intercultural Affairs. It aimed to offer a space for people of color at Grinnell to talk about what it’s like to be enrolled in a predominantly white institution.

“We got to talk to a lot of first years about how to navigate as a person of color in a predominantly white institution,” said Anita Dewitt ’17, SGA President and one of the speakers at the event. “How do you find a mentor? Who are your allies? Especially from my experience, when I came to Grinnell all of the computer science professors were white and there were no black music professors. We gave advice, like that I declared both of my majors with department chairs because I knew both of those people would have my back and advocate for me on that front when I had other professors. … There are a number of students who never interacted with white students before they got to Grinnell and vice versa. … We also even talked about professors setting different standards for you because you’re a person of color. Lewis spoke to this idea that she was always told a great writer until she was with a black professor who said ‘Your writing’s not as great as you think it is, maybe it’s because they just always have these lower expectations for you because you’re a student of color.’ … We also talked about code-switchingb and what you use spaces for. I have to go to CBS [Concerned Black Students] to decompress in a way, it’s very comforting to see people like you in a family of sorts. But how am I going to act when I walk out of that room?”

Compiled by Emma Friedlander and Jeff Li.

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