Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

The Name of Black House Should Change With Changed Mission

The name of the Black House should be changed. Period. When I think “Black House,” I envision a place structured and geared toward representing the interests of black students on campus – such at least was the case when I was a sophomore. The Black House was created in 1968 after black students protested and demanded that Georgetown recruit more black students and create a setting where they could feel comfortable around each other. The Black House then became the center for black student activity on campus. Since then, the Black House has changed dramatically from its original mission. At least for the past two years, the Black House has been inhabited by black and Latino students. Since the Black House has lost its original goal, it should also lose its original name. When I walk into the Black House today, I see a mixture of cultures. I hear Latin music in the background and see flyers advertising meetings for student groups such as the Black Student Alliance and Mecha. This is fine for me. The people who live in the Black House are also great students, leaders and friends of mine. I believe that the name of the house should reflect the diversity of its residents and its activities, particularly since we share so many similar struggles with our Latino brothers and sisters. The Black House is now sloganed as the coordinating center for all student of color activities, not just black and Latino. If this is indeed the case, maybe the name should be changed to the Center for Minority Student Affairs or the Center for People of Color Affairs. This would be perfect since the original Center for Minority Student Affairs (CMSA) is now taking every opportunity to advertise that its services are for ALL students – again, against the original goals of the organization. Yes, I do recognize that times change. However, names should also be changed to represent new philosophies. If I was a student who, 30 years ago, fought to have the Black House, I would prefer that the house be dismantled before I came back to find that a name I fought for no longer represented the essence of my struggles. This speaks to a greater problem for the black community on campus. We, as the next generation of black leaders at Georgetown and of the nation as a whole, are extremely out of touch with our “blackness.” We do not know or truly understand our history and what it means to be black in America, in Georgetown or in the world. Therefore, we let people use the term “black” loosely because it basically no longer means anything to us. Black students on this campus do not walk around with black pride emanating from them in the same manner that I see manifested from students of other ethnic backgrounds here. If you disagree with me just sit in the cafeteria next to some of the black students and see how many times you hear the words “bitch” or “nigga’.” This is obviously not the same climate of black positivity that led to the creation of the Black House. It only leads to the creation of more parties where we dance to music that insults us. It also leads black students to try to show how inclusive of multiculturalism they can be, while they remain a psychologically disenfranchised piece of this puzzle called the “diversity movement.” We are forever the apologists and we are always “the ones to settle,” to quote singer Lauryn Hill. We need a Black House now more than ever before. I write this column to the black students on campus in hopes that they realize that, as a whole, we do not represent like our ancestors did, and we don’t exude the same pride that they did in their fight for freedom – a struggle which allows us to enjoy the liberties we consistently take for granted today. There are elders who live in the Georgetown area now who, in the 1930s, were not even allowed to be on Georgetown’s campus. Now we act like we don’t even belong on this campus or in our own skin. The name of the Black House should be changed if the make-up is going to continue to be what it is currently. The term “black” should not be used loosely or taken for granted. Since we should be working with our Latino family to truly advance, let’s incorporate them into our community. We can do this by acknowledging the fact that they live there by giving the house a more inclusive name. We are losing the vestige of “blackness” we have when we try to prove to everyone else that we can diversify. I believe that we need to unify amongst ourselves before we diversify, so that the other ethnic groups on this campus can truly understand and respect us. Trying to make everyone feel comfortable without making them acknowledge the severity of our plight is an injustice to us all. Let’s get it together. Omekongo Dibinga is a senior in the School of Foreign Service.

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