As protests continue across the United States following the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minnesota on Memorial Day, the Black Student Union is giving students and alumni a virtual space to share their stories of what it’s like to be black at Kansas State.
Martin Luther King Jr said, "There comes a time when silence is betrayal." We share the same sentiment. Please, feel free to report any act of overt or covert racism you have experienced while attending K-State using the hashtag #BlackAtKState. pic.twitter.com/mZGkJw9Zrp
— Black Student Union (@ksubsu) June 3, 2020
In the thread of tweets, several current and former black students at K-State detailed their stories with microaggressions, discrimination, stereotypes, social media harassment and other experiences.
The facebook comment section under any BSU new story. #BlackAtKstate
— M A L💔 (@mleverett_) June 3, 2020
“By tweeting out the racism and discrimination we have faced over the years without punishment and without fear we are reclaiming the time we lost dealing with them,” Cara Bruce, BSU president and sophomore in social sciences, said via text. “It just goes to show how black students work twice as hard as any student on campus.”
Walking through campus and being told by a group of white male students to "go back to wherever the hell I came from" #BlackAtkstate
— Mariah (@mariah_scip15) June 3, 2020
The idea, Bruce said, was inspired by the #BlackAtMizzou campaign.
Black students at K-State account for a declining percentage of the student body. Between 2012 and 2018, when total enrollment fell by about nine percent, black student enrollment fell by 32 percent. In fall 2019, only 701 of the 21,719 total students at K-State identified as black.
Previously, Provost Charles Taber said that though his short time at K-State might disqualify him from having a historically based opinion on the matter, he does believe the campus climate has played a role in the decrease of black student enrollment at K-State.
“First, potential applicants to a university are very much affected by their perceptions of the campus and the information they see in news reports and social media — if they believe a campus is not inclusive, they are not likely to apply or come,” Taber said. “Second, student success is very much affected by student experiences on our campus, so that students who do not feel welcomed or included are less likely to succeed.”
K-State has made headlines in the last few years as racially charged events — some real and some later determined to be hoaxes — caused increased tensions on campus. At one point in 2017, multiple different instances were announced in a matter of days. In fact, it was the continued division on campus that eventually led to the first KSUnite.
Kemondre Taylor, former BSU president and recent K-State graduate, discussed his frustration with university administration.
“Having a seat at the table but having your voice suppressed when you are advocating for your community and constantly saying we do not need any more surveys nor KSUnite and administration doing it anyways,” Taylor tweeted in a thread.
Having a seat at the table but having your voice suppressed when you are advocating for your community and constantly saying we do not need any more surveys nor KSUnite and administration doing it anyways. #BlackAtkstate
— Kemondre (@KemondreNT) June 3, 2020
Ayana Belk, senior in landscape architecture, weighed in too.
“Hearing ‘Of course Ayana has access to drugs. She’s from the ghetto” from a white classmate in the college of architecture who is from the burbs of Kansas City,’ she tweeted.
— Ayana (@Ayana00419583) June 3, 2020
“And being #blackatkstate is wanting to transfer to another school after every racial incident but having to stay because of K-State specific scholarships and/or programs,” Belk added in another tweet.
Bruce said she hopes this campaign can “bring about awareness and pressure for change.”
“One person can tweet one tweet or three thousand tweets can come out of this,” Bruce said. “This wasn’t a social experiment; this is our lives.”
As for the peaceful protests that have popped up in the greater Manhattan area in the last week, “my thoughts are that its a good thing for sure,” Bruce said. “I hope that the effort continues and it isn’t just a one-time event.