By Kasey Foots | Contributor
Today, black is the thing to be. Black people are leading the culture — pop culture that is. From what you see on TV to the top artists on the charts, they are all people of color. Representation is so important and seeing people who look like you do things like become the president of the United States or be a community leader in your residence hall at your Predominantly White Institution (PWI) are all things that can be influential in the way one may view themselves and their capabilities.
Coming to Baylor, knowing that there would be few people who looked like me scared me. Questions ran through my mind like, “Will I be safe there?” or “Will I be accepted?” All valid questions, since the climate of our nation is becoming more and more toxic. People are getting bolder and making it even harder for black people to feel comfortable in normal spaces like sitting in a Starbucks or just walking down the street in their own neighborhood.
I knew Baylor to be a Baptist school praised for academics and its faith-based community, but I didn’t know it for diversity. I grew up in Houston, which is known for all different types of people from various racial and religious backgrounds. So to walk into a place where color was scarce and privilege was potent was a massive culture shock to me. I attended Line Camp the summer before starting my first semester at Baylor, and let’s just say I felt like a misplaced chocolate chip in a cup of vanilla ice cream.
I was surrounded by people who looked nothing like me, and I felt so alone. No one made me feel uncomfortable or directly made those comments to me, but it was something I was fighting internally.
I started to wonder if I had made the right decision. Was stepping outside of my comfort zone what I should have done or should I have just stayed in my bubble? I was so consumed with fear that I was letting that blur my view. But no, after my experience at Line Camp, I realized that I did make the right decision.
I eventually did meet other black girls at camp, and we were able to bond. They educated me on “Black Baylor,” which is a community of black students who come together to support and uplift each other throughout their experience at Baylor. They provide a haven for those who seek a community of people that are going through a similar experience as they are and would like people to relate to.
In our world, it’s easy to lose hope in humanity. It feels like there is no way to overcome the adversity that faces you because you see no one around you overcoming it. Representation is key in the world we live in. Seeing people who look like you do things that seem unattainable is necessary.
We as a community at Baylor need to strive to make the world around us better. We can’t complain about what we’re not willing to change. It’s up to us to push for representation in every place on this campus, and we need to start with pressuring the administration to make that a priority. I strive every day to be a person someone else can look to as inspiration of what’s possible: a black girl making big moves and remaining true to herself.
Kasey is a junior pre-business major from Houston.