Black History Month at YCP needs to be more than a one-night stand

The logo for ‘Owning My Blackness,’ founded in 2021 by Briaunna Embrey-Banks.

By Karisma Boyd

February, known as Black History Month, is a month that is supposed to celebrate and recognize African Americans who contributed to American history. Its purpose is to uplift Black life as well as educate them as well as other races.

In the usual celebratory fashion, organizations hold seminars or discourse on black education and history in addition to events, fundraisers and more.

York College of Pennsylvania is an institution that strives for excellence in creating a post-secondary education environment that is affordable and accessible for future Spartans. These pledges alone have served York College well: Over the past couple of years there has been an influx of students coming to pursue their academic and future careers here.

Students come from various backgrounds, countries, and cultures, and York College has embraced ways to celebrate what makes them all unique. Every year during February, York College’s Chartwell Dining services holds an annual “Cultural Dinner: Soul Food” event with the emphasis on helping “us celebrate African American culture and heritage through food.”

York College’s effort to use food as a way to “connect” is admirable but in the eyes of this Black student also is minimal. Nor does it contribute to the betterment of student diversity on campus other than fill our bellies like any other day. But the ignorance and lack of learning about Black heritage don’t come to much surprise. It is rare to be taught aspects of African American history within a regular curriculum at York College, and when it is, Black students are just reminded of their generational traumas involving chains.

During this time that is supposed to be an educational and powerful experience for all, the only message that students received was that Valentine’s Day, one day out of an entire month, deserves a calendar of events for 28 days rather than Black History Month. Yes, there were events held by the newest organization created by Student Inclusion & Diversity called “Owning My Blackness,” founded in 2021 by Briaunna Embrey-Banks. But outside of that, other feasible avenues to reach the entire student body from staff and faculty were not taken and were, in hindsight, leaving this organization to fend for itself.

York College has been making efforts to include its diverse student body in its Spartan mission. But to further this journey of progressiveness, the school needs to listen to more Black voices, putting them at the forefront to discuss their ideas ahead of Black History Month. They can achieve this by reaching out to Black students and Black organizations both in and outside of York College.

Karisma Boyd is a sophomore majoring in Mass Communications and a co-editor for The Spartan Features section.


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