February is Black History Month
Queering Black History Month
Black History Month is a time to honor and recognize the visions of civil rights leaders but also to the trailblazers who have and continue to break barriers especially in communities where Black Queer and Trans people are not just surviving, but thriving.
At the Pride Center, we center racial justice at the forefront of our work. As a campus support service for LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff, we have a responsibility, a commitment to bringing forms of injustice into the light so we can address and eradicate them to create a more equitable and just campus community. These efforts mean prioritizing the most marginalized in our communities. This means Black people, queer people, trans people, non-binary people. people from communities of color, people who live at the intersections of historically excluded identities.
We have to ask ourselves, what am I doing to make tomorrow better for Black, queer and trans people?
LGBTQ+ Students of Color
Experiences of LGBTQ+ Students of Color in College
We know that LGBTQ+ students on college campuses experience greater isolation and loneliness than non-LGBTQ+ students. Mental health studies from the Jed Foundation and Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource professionals along with American College Health Association National College Health Assessment supports this. However, being an LGBTQ+ student of color at a predominantly white campus like the University of North Dakota can intensify feelings of isolation and loneliness. Additionally, research by leading scholars in the field such as Antonio Duran shows that LGBTQ+ students of color are more likely to encounter higher rates of harassment than their white peers and have higher rates of suicide.
Students that live at the intersections of their identities have to navigate daily experiences of queer and trans hostility in addition to racism. Although we have LGBTQ+ student groups on campus it can be challenge for LGBTQ+ students of color to connect with white LGBTQ+ students. The organizations often focus on singular issue of queer and trans hostility and experiences that do not always include or recognize the impacts of LGBTQ+ students of color. Additionally, when students of color join racial, ethnic, or cultural affinity groups on campus, they may experience forms of queer and trans hostility. Furthermore, this leaves LGBTQ+ students of color having nowhere to go where they can feel affirmed and welcomed.
Challenges in College Curriculum
LGBTQ+ students report that college curriculum often excludes lived identities and experience of LGBTQ+ people. When students are unable to connect with the curriculum, it leads to disengagement and has a negative impact on a students academic performance. More often than not, when topics of gender and sexuality are taught, they are taken out of context, use outdated language and terminology, or portray LGBTQ+ people and their lives negatively. Students at UND have experienced this where their identities are not represented accurately or appropriately and when students share aspects of their identity within their classes, they are often tokenized and expected to be the “expert”. These types of experiences are exhausting for students and lead them to stop going to class, drop the course, and sometimes even leave the academic program and/or institution.
Curriculum also ignores the experience of LGBTQ+ people at the intersections of identity. For many LGBTQ+ students of color, their existence is rarely included in conversations around gender and sexuality or within topics of race, ethnicity, and culture. A lack of inclusive curriculum limits representation, awareness, and understanding of LGBTQ+ populations which can have a negative impact on student learning as they prepare for a future career. Inclusive curriculum is not just a way fulfill a diversity requirement but rather as a means to assist in student retention initiatives, prepare students for a global society, address inequities in higher education, and establish a commitment to service to historically excluded communities.
Feb. 2: Black History Month Bingo
Feb. 14 & 28: Student Diversity & Inclusion Book Club – Assata Shakur
Several events are being held by the Black Student Association and African Student Union for Black History Month. Follow their social media to learn more.