Black history has been met at many institutions with the biographies and pictures of traditional heroes: Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and maybe Harriet Tubman.
For 28 days, snapshots of black heritage are shown and explained through politics. During this month, the welts that blistered the skin of the uncivilized and defiant workers, that allowed this country to stand in today’s arrogant deposition, are publicized. The abuse endured by countless souls resonates today as my scab pills.
Image is everything. The hours invested to destroy our curious need for education subtly continues in the dark.
Image is everything. The images shown to prospective students often feature the much- loved token of appreciation. Frequently, the University’s manners are forgotten and that small token is left out.
Blacks are continuously left out; maybe it’s because the knowledge regurgitated in staff meetings remains ignorant and simple. There is no common knowledge that exists between tools of recruitment about TRiO Programs, the Black Greek Association, the Black Student Union, the African Student Association, SISTAHS and My Brother’s Keeper.
If we would like to see these instrumental coordinators and recruiters retaining knowledge of our programs, it quickly becomes our task. The uneclectic uniform of power, the University of Minnesota, more than understands the idea that image is everything. Photographs of beautiful black students hang in the halls of the Office of Admissions, and the featured Nubian subjects are unaware. The reflection of race in the mirror of the University remains distorted like the funhouse.
Image is everything. The images shown to current students have never reflected our mission statement here at the University. As “strategic positioning” begins, the image of what a University student should be begins to form.
Reading the plan paints a beautiful portrait of distinction, illustrating the notion that the University is the best and should accept only the best. This picture excludes individuals who battle institutionalized racism everyday.
An e-mail was sent to make students aware of the upcoming discussion about this topic, only to portray desires to involve the opinion of all.
A forum was held to shed light on misrepresentation of blacks on campus, and an image in The Minnesota Daily appeared to demonstrate the progress of the roundtable talk. Yet, there have been no images of the oppression or persecution. The University has proven to be more than proficient in this art.
Image is everything. I believe that we as a people – black people – have become complacent. I know some think that blacks have it a lot better than 30 or 40 years ago, but do we really?
We are shown pictures to believe that the fields are evening out, and the prophecy is automatically bought. Racism is passionately alive behind blind eyes, forcing us to continue to fight vocally. If we cannot show that we care, why would anyone else?
We are fed images of unity, knowing it does not exist on this campus. We become invisible to the University once the desired quota has been filled. I remember hearing the inspiring statement “Give me freedom or give me death,” which begs the question, for whom?
I ask that either we fight to the death for our freedom or fight this freedom until it’s dead. Stand up. Make noise. Show up. My people, image is everything.
Charles Helm is a University student and member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. Please send comments to [email protected]