While sitting in lecture listening to a white professor talk about Black History, the absolute last thing that you want to hear as a Black student is your white professor refer to Black people as “the blacks”. It’s disrespectful to our ancestors and to us as carriers of our Black heritage to hear such a derogatory name be used in a lecture filled with some students who already have flawed mentalities regarding race. Not to mention that it sends a terrible message to the non-Black students attending this predominantly white university. It conveys the idea that Black people should not be recognized as people; as the title of this article says, “I am a person, not a color”.
The term “the blacks” is used as a generalizing statement to refer to Black people without taking into account their backgrounds and experiences. It’s a term that dehumanizes people within the African diaspora whether these white professors know it or not. This poor choice of words conveys to a class filled with college students, that Black people should be defined by a color when that should never be the case. Instead, Black people or a particular Black person should be spoken about in a respectful manner while their race is used to describe them and their experiences. With this in mind, I feel as though UCSD as an institution needs to do better especially when it comes to hiring educators and professors who are expected to speak on such topics regarding race and Black history.
When my professors refer to Black people as “the blacks”, I make it a personal goal for myself to speak up, because I feel like such an offensive term shouldn’t be mentioned in a lecture, ever. My Black ancestors went through too much to be demeaned by their race and only acknowledged by the color of their skin and I hope others speak up when poor word choices are expressed and everyone else remains silent.
Intersectionality is crucial when talking about large groups of people because it emphasizes the fact that no two people are the same. One’s intersectional identity allows others to learn about their unique life experiences and perspectives without the fear of generalizations and stereotypes. It allows them to step out of traditional boxes and labels and truly embrace who they are as individuals.
On another note, as we wrap up this quarter please remember that although it was very difficult, you’ve made it. Please give yourself more credit for the amazing work you’ve done and are continuing to do as a student that is attending college in a pandemic. I know motivation is at a bare minimum, but study hard and finish strong because you got this! After finals, take time for yourself, journal, read, pick up that new hobby you wanted to do but never had the time for, start that skin or hair care routine now that you have time, and relax. I am sending you my love, positivity, and prayers. Happy Holidays!
Peace fam, come back when more sauce is spilled!
Kiyahna Brown is the Assistant Arts and Culture Editor and creator of The Sauce: a new Black column within The Triton. You can follow her on Instagram @Kitkat12600