Getting insight from a StFX Alumnus about their experience on campus
What was it like being a black man at StFX?
“The first thing I notice is that I’m a visible minority in my classes and on campus. When you’re black it is assumed that you are not just there for academics, you’re either an international student or a student athlete. Another thing is that there is a specific stereotypical expectation. I think that the biggest issue is while being a black student at X, I’m seen as being a thrill- like a novelty to others. And the problem with a novelty is that its only used in certain situations and only needed for certain situations- otherwise its disregarded or forgotten.”
Did you ever have the experience of being asked where are you originally from? And not being believed that you are from Canada? If so did it anger you?
“Every time I’ve met a new white person young or old, staff or student- it is assumed that I’m not originally from Canada. It’s usually assumed that I’m from the Bahamas- assumed that I’ve immigrated here from some part- even though everyone has immigrated from some point if they’re not indigenous. I’m a first generation Canadian. – my parents weren’t but I definitely am. I can see why people say this, but my problem is- when it’s assumed that I’m not from here- its like I’m different from the cultural norms and customs of other Canadians- its assumed that I’m not into ‘regular’ Canadian things.”
Have you ever been faced discrimination at StFX?
“For sure. Discrimination comes in different forms- the discrimination that I’m faced with is that I’m not excluded in the sense that I’m not allowed to attend certain classes, or events. The discrimination that I’ve been faced with is passive aggression and ignorant discrimination- being excluded because they assume that I’m black I wouldn’t want to be apart of a particular situation. Because there is a stigma of what a black person should like and act like. Or that they just think that I can’t do those things because I’m black- because they’ve never seen a black person do that- therefore a black person is not capable of doing that.”
Do you sometimes feel like your friends don’t understand your anger or frustration when it comes to talking about black issues?
“I 100% think that my friends have little to no understanding especially since most of them are a majority, that go to school with an abysmal minority. I don’t think it’s because they go to StFX that they don’t understand the struggles, it’s because most people are coming from the east coast- or western Ontario that have much smaller black populations. Or they could be in a more equal black population, but they don’t associate themselves with black people, not intentionally. And I feel like when a person goes to a high school where the black population were equal to the white population they have a better understanding of black struggles. The people in my high school had a better perspective of minority struggles- my friends at X however were not exposed to these minority struggles they don’t have a firm understanding. If a person is growing up having predominantly white friends in a white neighborhood and they don’t have a black friend that is close, they still don’t see the overall minority struggle. Struggles such as police profiling or abuse- minority struggle- they didn’t grow up with minorities so how would they see that. Therefore to them it doesn’t exist. The main point is that- the reason why I felt this way is due to ignorance- lack of education- majority of east coast and eastern Ontario students that I met at X minimal to no black history knowledge or experience.”
What’s your view on African History month?
“I think that the term African history in itself is flawed considering there are many different types of black people in the world, in Canada and at StFX. That being said, although I disagree with the name, the premise of what African history month at X is trying to do is very positive. Unfortunately, at X African history month is poorly commercialized and given very little media attention in my experience at X in contrast to other social, cultural and gender based educational movements. Even myself in the four years being a black male found it hard to find out about black awareness happenings in the school very minimal posters and media attention and unless in the field of related study very little comments about it made by professors, this would not be a big deal if other movements had a much more popular media attention with tons of photo posters and many profs of different educational areas promoting them.”
Closing words: the small school of St. Francis Xavier is a wonder full place of kind people and open welcoming arms. However, with small towns and small schools small close-minded thoughts can be found. However, as a post-secondary institution the post modern digital era where information is easily accessible, further initiatives in opening the minds to those who attend the university will push to a more progressive equal mind of enlightenment.