Harvard University Hosted Graduation for Black Students
“This is not about segregation. It’s about fellowship and building a community.”
That is a direct quote from Michael Huggins, one of the organizers for the Harvard celebration of Black graduates that took place this past Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017.
It was a challenge having to face the dichotomy of whether to embrace, celebrate, and glorify the culture’s obastacles in an exclusive graduation verses just celebrating the traditional, but all inclusive commencement held on Thursday, May 25th. This was the battle that is not only fought in this school, but in this country. The fight between “we need to over compensate with love for our own” vs “we need to be included with the masses” which truthfully all ties in together and they are not mutually exclusive.
It’s a common split within a struggle. People often have different solutions and tactics to resolve an issue.
I was able to attend this graduation and witness the genuine smiles and a pure sense of fulfillment as each student rightfully received the acknowledgment they truly deserve. Graduating with a degree from Harvard isn’t enough; these students made it their duty to leave the school with a mark that will be stamped in the history books (*ironic figure of speech). Huggins implied that it took quite a lot of fighting to establish this special ceremony, and in the midst, they had raised $30,000 within this last year. A fight would be the last thing this organization would back away from, considering the purpose of the event.
In my very first few steps into the graduation, I had a non-verbal encounter with a protester (wasn’t clear at the time), who was later escorted out, with a shirt reading “There’s No Racism in Harvard.” In the moment, I didn’t quite think much of it, however, I found it quite peculiar that he seemed pretty upset. After briefly speaking with Huggins, he mentioned there was a 1 man protest held outside of the yahd (=yard).
This tweet is one of the most ignorant and immature perspectives one can stand by. Here’s just a few other ignorant takes that fit this logic;
“Women’s day? Why shouldn’t men have a day”
“Breast Cancer Awareness month? My grandmother has Gallbladder cancer, thats some B.S!”
I think you get the gist of what I’m getting at. It is such a simplistic and self centered point of view. Literally, take a step outside of your shoes and read up on some history bro.
Social media trolls (or Window Breathers) became very opiniated on this topic, as a lot of false narratives made it’s way through the internet. One of the biggest misconceptions were that it was exclusively for black students only. It was indeed a celebration for black graduates, however, all were welcome. If you had felt uncomfortable attending as a white male, or white female, then maybe there’s other issues that need to be dealt with introspectively.
Latinos and the LGBT student body hosted their own exclusive annual ceremonies as well, but it’s the Black Graduation that got the attention of racists and white-washed, privileged individuals.
“Too often at Harvard, there is not cross-discipline contact between black students. So it can feel like you are the only person of color.” Michael Huggins told The Root.
Friends are typically formed by finding common ground. Now, if roughly 6% of students look like you, it takes more effort to find like-minded individuals. From experience, I think it’s fair to say students do better with moral support from peers. To Michael’s point, it could be painfully uncomfortable not crossing paths with others who can identify with your unique culture.
The difference in a person’s skin tone should not be ignored, nor should it be used against you. However, it should be used as an opportunity to learn about each other. As minorities, we naturally assimilate to the majority culture often because of what has been given to us. Therefore, embracing one’s own culture has always been a special feeling that not many are expected to understand.
Again, as I mention in most of my race/gender based articles, please stop telling other groups of struggle what they should and should not do, or should and should not feel. A world without empathy is a world headed nowhere, fast!
Thank you Harvard for your warm welcome, and may all the graduates’ hard work get the acknowledgment they truly deserve!