Last February the Black Student Union began their club to share experiences on a largely caucasian campus. Today, they want inclusivity and to fight against ignorance for the greater good.
Chyanne Vanzant, junior international studies major and president of BSU, wants to see a change in the way students on campus view black culture. Vanzant wants students to become more informed fighting against ignorance and redefining the word away from the negative cogitations behind it.
“It’s very unsettling for us because a lot of times the students are standoffish, or they are just quiet or just ignorant to a lot of black culture in general,” said Vanzant. “Ignorance is not a bad term like people think the cogitations recently.”
The way BSU plans on changing the narrative is by showing off black culture through fashion, film and discussing what it means to be an African American.
“The more and more events we do, like a fashion show, a movie night or discussion topics that we have a lot more of the population becomes a lot more educated on black culture and what it means to be black in America,” Vanzant said.
In addition to the culture issues, Vanzant said there is still an issue on campus when students touch or grab her and other African American’s hair.
“It’s almost like being treated like a petting zoo and nobody likes that,” said Vanzant. “But, no one really seems to understand that it’s hard to convey you’re uncomfortable.”
When it comes to actually getting their hair done, the BSU members have now become reliant on each other to do each other’s hair or finding products. Vanzant said the BSU has become a little family with how students rely on each other.
When Vanzant is in classes, sensitive debate topics will come up, and Vanzant said she had it difficult as a freshman in class to go over sensitive topics. Now as a junior, and president of BSU, she feels more comfortable in her skin, but it still is difficult to discuss politics in class.
In one of her classes last semester while debating the controversy surrounding former 49er’s quarterback Colin Kaepernick, it was difficult to get her point across as the only black student in the class.
“It was hard to get my point across because, everybody was like ‘it’s disrespectful to the military’ and when I tried to explain myself and really defend my point of view,” Vanzant said. “No one wanted to hear it and everyone begins to shut down and as a freshman that was scary but, now I say it anyway.”
Vanzant explained BSU has faced some push back, but the reasoning for the push back to her doesn’t really make sense.
“I don’t understand why anybody wouldn’t want a diverse campus, a campus where everyone feels welcome, because it feels tiring of seeing the same people every day even though were small just seeing one prominent race every day is tiring,” Vanzant said. “Because then there is not a mixture of culture of ideas everything is pretty much the same.”
Conversation is the goal of BSU explained Vanzant. It is ok to ask questions about her hair, there is a way to ask questions respectfully and, most importantly, they do not want to be treated like zoo animals.
“We just want people to not treat us like we’re animals or a petting zoo or we are something completely different from them,” Vanzant said. “We want people to just understand like we are kind of needed on this campus and we just want to be inclusive with everyone and really just educate people.”