Nineteen Fifty-Six Vol. 4 Issue 1

Nelson Mandela once said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” With the Fall 2023 Issue of Nineteen Fifty-Six, "Blackology" we wanted to highlight stories of Black Education from past, present and future. Focusing on the beautiful aspects of Black education but also he trials and hardships with it as well. Mostly we wanted to celebrate what it means to Black and Educated in an edition dedicated to Black educators, students and youth.

Nelson Mandela once said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” With the Fall 2023 Issue of Nineteen Fifty-Six, "Blackology" we wanted to highlight stories of Black Education from past, present and future. Focusing on the beautiful aspects of Black education but also he trials and hardships with it as well. Mostly we wanted to celebrate what it means to Black and Educated in an edition dedicated to Black educators, students and youth.


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FALL 2023

Dear Black Students,<br />

You do matter. The numerous achievements and<br />

talents of Black students deserve to be recognized.<br />

As of Fall 2023, 11% of students on campus identified<br />

as Black or African American. Black students are<br />

disproportionately underrepresented in various areas<br />

on campus. <strong>Nineteen</strong> <strong>Fifty</strong>-<strong>Six</strong> is a Black studentled<br />

magazine that amplifies the voices within the<br />

University of Alabama’s Black community. It also<br />

seeks to educate students from all backgrounds on<br />

culturally important issues and topics in an effort<br />

to produce socially-conscious, ethical and wellrounded<br />


Contributors<br />

Writers<br />

Andrea Tinker, Jemyah Wilson, Kay Maxwell, Kendal M. wwWright,<br />

Sophana Norville, Gabby Blackshear, Dani Brown, Jermaine Ball,<br />

Kristen Taylor, Jordan Huggins, Jeffrey Kelly, Jazymne Isaac,<br />

Ta’Kyla Bates<br />

Photographers<br />

Sidney Todd, Dallas Harper, Dani Brown, Tyler Hogan<br />

Designers<br />

Camille Sealey, Lyrical Wisdom, Dani Brown, Jeffrey Kelly,<br />

Ta’Kyla Bates, Autumn Williams, Tyler Hogan<br />

Engagement<br />

DQ Richardson, Alyse Holt, Ryan Alexis, Kylan Foster<br />

Public Relations<br />

Jai Ivy Raines, Victoria Campbell, Katy Mahand, Jada<br />

Spears, Jamille Winters<br />


<strong>Nineteen</strong> <strong>Fifty</strong>-<strong>Six</strong> is published by the Office of Student Media at The University of<br />

Alabama. All content and design are produced by students in consultation with<br />

professional staff advisers. All material contained herein, except advertising or where<br />

indicated otherwise, is copyrighted © 2023 by <strong>Nineteen</strong> <strong>Fifty</strong>-<strong>Six</strong> magazine. Material<br />

herein may not be reprinted without the expressed, written permission of <strong>Nineteen</strong> <strong>Fifty</strong>-<br />

<strong>Six</strong> magazine. Editorial and Advertising offices for<strong>Nineteen</strong> <strong>Fifty</strong>-<strong>Six</strong> Magazine are located<br />

at 414 Campus Drive East, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487. The mailing address is P.O. Box 870170,<br />

Tuscaloosa, AL 35487. Phone: (205) 348-7257.

Editorial<br />

Staff<br />

2023-2024 School Year<br />

Engagement Editor-Janee Hill<br />

PR Manager- Deja Evans<br />

Asst. Writing-Kay Maxwell<br />

Asst. Writing- Jordan Huggins<br />

Asst. Photo- Sidney Todd<br />

Asst. Engagement- Jordan Strawter<br />

Asst. PR Manager- Kennedy Ogden<br />

PR Strategist-Jolencia Jones<br />

Editor-In-Chief- Ta’Kyla Bates<br />

Managing Editor- Dani Brown<br />

Creative Director- Lyrical Wisdom<br />

Writing Editor- Jeffrey Kelly<br />

Photography Editor- Tyler Hogan<br />

Design Editor- Camille Sealey

Letter from the Editor<br />

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” -<br />

Nelson Mandela<br />

I stand here as a senior at the University of Alabama 60 years after Governor George<br />

Wallace stood in the doors of Foster Auditorium demanding that two Black students,<br />

Vivian Malone Jones and James Hood, not be enrolled at the University. Reflecting on<br />

my time here at the Capstone has shown me our progress in Black education.<br />

As I write this letter to Black students at UA, we should reflect on the admirble efforts<br />

of trailblazers like Autherine Lucy Foster and so many more who fought tirelessly<br />

in the name of Black education. Even with progress, we still have a ways to go.<br />

Historically, the advancement of Black education has been met with numerous legal<br />

challenges, including landmark court cases such as Brown v. Board of Education in<br />

1954, which dealt with the issue of school integration, and Regents of the University<br />

of California v. Bakke in 1978, which touched on affirmative action.<br />

Growing up, school and getting an education were of utmost importance. My family<br />

said: “Education is the way out.” I stand by this statement because my journey through<br />

academia and choosing to pursue higher education has taught me numerous valuable<br />

life lessons and I have obtained skills and knowledge that I think are necessary<br />

to guide me throughout life. I advocate for Black and minority youth to have the<br />

resources and opportunities they need to achieve academic success and reach their<br />

full potential.<br />

Our focus with “Blackology” is to highlight the issues regarding the future of Black<br />

education amid the contemporary political state that endorses the banning of books<br />

that provide children with an understanding of the systemic issues within our nation,<br />

and the repeal of landmark laws. We address the century-long debate, PWI or HBCU?<br />

Our editors give their best study tips and tricks to help with those long treacherous<br />

semesters as well as asking ourselves “Is college even worth it?”<br />

Being a Black student at UA, it can feel daunting to constantly be “the only one.”<br />

However, thanks to the unwavering support of countless Black students, professors<br />

and staff, I have been fortunate enough to discover and join various communities and<br />

organizations where I am surrounded by individuals who share my cultural identity.<br />

In this issue of <strong>Nineteen</strong> <strong>Fifty</strong>-<strong>Six</strong>, I humbly dedicate its contents to the trailblazing<br />

Black educators, teachers, students and youth who are working tirelessly to bring<br />

about positive change in our world.

Table of<br />

Contents<br />

42<br />

Features<br />

Culture<br />

The Impact of the Affirmative Action 14<br />

The Call for Diversity Doesn’t Stop at the Student Body 16<br />

The Achievement Gaps Lasting Impact on Black Students 18<br />

The Media’s Representation of Education 20<br />

Taking a Side Hustle to a New Level 24<br />

26<br />

Lifestyle<br />

Working While in College: The Good, the Bad and The<br />

Privileged 28<br />

Banned Book Recommendation 31<br />

Build Bonds: How to Connect Form Meaningful Connections<br />

with your Professor 32<br />

Discussing Sexual Health Education with Five Horizons 34<br />

The Silence and Stigma: The Burden of Mental Health for<br />

People of Color at a Predominantly White Institution 36<br />

Study Tips and Tricks 40<br />

12<br />

A New Home Base for Rising Black Educators 44<br />

Black Alumni Association: Paving the Way for the Next<br />

Generation 46<br />

In Conversation with Dr. Pamela Payne-Foster 48<br />

In Conversation with George Daniels 50<br />

Tide Trailblazers 52<br />

Experiences<br />

Family Values 56<br />

Moving Beyond the Debate: Why the PWI vs HBCU Debate is No<br />

Longer Productive 58<br />

Is College Worth It? 59<br />

It’s Never Too Late to Find Your Community: The Importance<br />

of Campus Involvement 60<br />

A Conversation on Critical Race Theory 62<br />

54<br />

To Loan or Not to Loan: Discussing the Almost Inevitability<br />

of Student Loan Debt 64

African American students are less likely than<br />

white students to have access to college-ready<br />

courses. In fact, in 2011-12, only 57 percent of<br />

culture<br />

Black students have access to a full range of<br />

math and science courses necessary for college<br />

readiness, compared to with 81 percent of Asian<br />

American students and 71 percent of white<br />

students. -United Negro College Fund

wsw<br />

14<br />

The Impact of<br />

Affirmative Action<br />

Earlier this year, in a 6-3 decision, the United States<br />

Supreme Court ruled that race-based affirmative<br />

action in higher education violates the equalprotection<br />

clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.<br />

The decision has been met with concern and disapproval<br />

across the nation, including the University of Alabama.<br />

Bryan Fair, a UA law professor specializing in constitutional<br />

law, wrote and published a book in 1997 in defense of<br />

affirmative action titled “Notes of a Racial Caste Baby:<br />

Colorblindness and the End of Affirmative Action (NYU<br />

Press 1997).” Thirty-five years later, Fair is still defending<br />

it, now against a decision he said is historically inaccurate<br />

and embarrassing.<br />

“It makes white privilege and the support of white<br />

supremacy invisible, and it makes students of color<br />

villains. As if they were asking for something special,” he<br />

said. “What we’ve been asking for the past 50 years is an<br />

opportunity to enroll in the finest schools in the country.”<br />

Fair questioned the validity of the Supreme Court’s<br />

claim that affirmative action was an unfair practice.<br />

He said there is a longstanding history of institutions<br />

discriminating against underrepresented communities<br />

that haven’t been remedied.<br />

“Until the court talks to me about remedies, I don’t want<br />

to hear that something is unfair,” Fair said. “The same<br />

court that says this was unfair allowed these practices to<br />

go on for hundreds of years.”<br />

Carrigan Collins, a junior majoring in African-American<br />

studies and criminal justice, said that reversing<br />

Kay Maxwell<br />

affirmative action will give schools an easy way to<br />

discriminate on the basis of race.<br />

“The American education system is rooted in white<br />

supremacy,” Collins said. “As much as racism can be<br />

blatant, institutions will do what they can to underserve<br />

people of color and get away with it. All that reversing<br />

affirmative action did was make it easier.”<br />

Ruth Serven Smith, the education editor at AL.com, said<br />

the state of Alabama has a unique history with affirmative<br />

action and the universities within it operate differently.<br />

She said Alabama schools would consider admitting<br />

students more based on SAT scores, income and other<br />

factors.<br />

“So affirmative action in Alabama, yes, schools use it in<br />

that sense that since desegregation, they’ve had to add<br />

ways to better admit Alabama students of all races or<br />

international students of all races, but they don’t have<br />

the specific levers that other schools were pulling and so<br />

they’re not necessarily directly affected by the supreme<br />

court decision,” Smith said.<br />

Nabila Lovelace, an instructor in the department of Gender<br />

and Race Studies, said she was unsure if affirmative action<br />

was even working for the Black community and other<br />

underrepresented communities.<br />

“And I ask that because, I haven’t looked at the numbers<br />

recently but the last time I looked at the numbers, the<br />

people who benefited most from affirmative action are<br />

white women, actually,” she said.<br />

Lovelace was correct; according to USA Today, white<br />

women gained the most footing in education and in the<br />

workplace as a result of affirmative action.<br />

“I think that the overturning of it in general is heinous,<br />

it’s ridiculous,” Lovelace said. “But I also wonder what it<br />

was possibly doing in terms of numbers of Black students<br />

previously.”<br />

Affirmative action has a long and contentious history.<br />

Though the rulings originated to prohibit discrimination<br />

in employment, it has had a great impact on higher<br />

education. In 1969, several elite universities, such as<br />

Harvard and Columbia, began admitting more than twice<br />

as many Black students as they had in the prior year.<br />

However, according to a report by UCLA’s Civil Rights<br />

Project, the 1990s saw a decline in efforts to diversify<br />

schools, and the number of Black students attending<br />

these institutions began to drop each year.<br />

The order was met with backlash from many white<br />

students, who felt as though their spots were being taken<br />

from them simply because they were white. This backlash<br />

continued until the reversal of the rulings earlier this<br />

year.<br />

Despite the potential for affirmative action to actually<br />

affect students at the University, some still fear the<br />

implications of its reversal.<br />

J’Noel Enock, a junior majoring in economics and<br />

philosophy, said race plays a big role in admissions so she<br />

believes some students are going to be more hesitant to<br />

apply to certain schools and Black students especially<br />

will opt for institutions where their race isn’t seen as a<br />

deterrent.<br />

“I think Black students face a decision: PWI or HBCU, even<br />

before the Supreme Court Ruling” Enock said.<br />

Smith said since Alabama has multiple HBCUs — 14, the<br />

nation’s largest amount — she’s interested to see if the<br />

repeal sparks more interest from in-state and out-state<br />

students in attending HBCUs here.<br />

Due to Alabama’s history with affirmative action, Smith<br />

wondered whether it will go beyond admissions, and<br />

potentially impact scholarships and financial aid for<br />

students of color.<br />

“Different schools in Alabama do offer some race-based<br />

scholarships, or I would say targeted scholarships,” Smith<br />

said. “I think the question will be are they still allowed to<br />

do that? And if not, I’m sure somebody at some point will<br />

take some of those things to court. And we might have a<br />

waterfall effect on the number of black<br />

students in Alabama who are interested or able to go to<br />

school in Alabama.”<br />

In terms of the University of Alabama, Fair wondered how<br />

the school will learn from this event.<br />

“We have many constitutional violations in our history<br />

that have never been remedied,” Fair said. “The remedy<br />

for excluding people for 130 years isn’t simply to allow<br />

people to come, that isn’t a remedy. You’ve got to do more<br />

than that. The question is, what will Alabama ever do? And<br />

what will the nation ever do. And until we resolve those<br />

issues, we’re going to have a sharply divided community.”<br />

“It makes white privilege<br />

and the support of white<br />

supremacy invisible,<br />

and it makes students<br />

of color villains. As<br />

if they were asking for<br />

something special.”<br />

DENIED<br />





The University of Alabama announced recordbreaking<br />

enrollment of 39,623 students in Fall<br />

2023. However, while diversity is changing in<br />

student populations, it’s stagnant among faculty.<br />

In 2022, the University employed 2,054 faculty members,<br />

and 168, or 8.2%, were Black. Since 2017, the number of<br />

Black faculty members has steadily increased.<br />

While these numbers are low, they are better than other<br />

SEC schools, like Auburn University — which in 2022<br />

employed 65 out of 1,435, or 4.5% — and Texas A&M —<br />

which in 2022 employed 123 out of 3,201 faculty members,<br />

or 3.8% — highlighting a larger issue of representation in<br />

the higher education space.<br />

At the University, the lack of racially diverse faculty has<br />

led to the development of organizations like the Black<br />

Faculty and Staff Association, which according to its<br />

website, serves as “an advocate for educational equity,<br />

with an emphasis on African-American students, and the<br />

professional needs of its members.”<br />

Utz McKnight, chair of the Department of Gender<br />

and Race Studies and former BFSA president, said it’s<br />

important for students to see representation in their<br />

peers, but also in their faculty for many reasons, like<br />

creating connections, enriching the future development<br />

of the state and research.<br />

“Let’s say we have a student who wants to do African<br />

American literature. It is true that you don’t have to<br />

be a Black faculty member to be interested in African<br />

American literature, but the conversation about the value<br />

of African American literature should have led to the<br />

hiring of African American faculty who are writers and<br />

experts in literature,” McKnight said.<br />


Nabila Lovelace, an instructor in the Department of<br />

Gender and Race Studies, said there are some things<br />

that can be taught within a degreed program, but “there<br />

are sometimes where expertise can only come from<br />

experience.”<br />

She said representation matters.<br />

“When you hire more instructors who have a lived<br />

experience to pair with their expertise, it gives them a<br />

different kind of intimacy with the work,” Lovelace said.<br />

There have been several studies highlighting the<br />

importance of representation in higher education. One<br />

notable publication is “Race, Identity, and Representation<br />

in Education (Critical Social Thought)” by Warren<br />

Crichlow, which connects the rates of success of minority<br />

students to how represented they felt in their educational<br />

pursuits.<br />

Crichlow wrote “seeing yourself in others with a similar<br />

background, culture, class, or skin color helps drive<br />

engagement and involvement in academic settings.”<br />

Though originally published in 1993, the work has<br />

resonated with sociologists, and is often cited in discourse<br />

surrounding the importance of racial representation.<br />

Mya Reliford, a junior majoring in kinesiology, said that<br />

representation is hard to come by within her field and<br />

her classes too.<br />

“I’m usually one of four Black students, out of maybe 50<br />

students,” Reliford said.<br />

Johnnice Robinson, a sophomore majoring in finance,<br />

said she doesn’t believe her professors can understand<br />

her struggles as a Black student.<br />

“Most of the professors are white and it makes me feel<br />

like ‘is this for me?’ because I rarely see people like me<br />

in my field,” she said.<br />

Representation does more than inspire Black students.<br />

Across the nation, there have been many reports of<br />

Black educators in various academic levels becoming<br />

disenchanted in the field.<br />

An article in The Hechinger Report outlines the<br />

struggles of Black teachers, and how the stress is causing<br />

them to quit.<br />

In it, Jasmine Lane, a high school teacher in Minneapolis,<br />

points to the extremely low rate of Black teachers in her<br />

state as a reason for feeling so isolated. Lane was not<br />

the only Black teacher in her district, but was subject to<br />

microaggressions from her coworkers, and had no one to<br />

relate to her experiences.<br />

Several Black college professors are turning away from<br />

predominately white institutions and focusing their<br />

expertise on historically Black colleges and universities<br />

instead.<br />

In 2021, Nikole Hannah-Jones, an award-winning<br />

journalist, turned down an offer of tenure from the<br />

University of North Caroline at Chapel Hill and instead<br />

accepted an offer from Howard University to be Knight<br />

Chair.<br />

In her statement explained her decision, citing racism<br />

as one of the deciding factors while her work centering<br />

Black Americans was attacked by white faculty and<br />

community members, and the university did nothing to<br />

protect her.<br />

“How could I believe I’d be able to exert academic freedom<br />

with the school’s largest donor so willing to disparage<br />

me publicly and attempt to pull the strings behind the<br />

scenes,” Hannah-Jones said in her statement. “Why would<br />

I want to teach at a university whose top leadership chose<br />

to remain silent, to refuse transparency, to fail to publicly<br />

advocate that I be treated like every other Knight Chair<br />

before me?”<br />

McKnight has encouraged UA to hire more diverse staff<br />

while working toward institutional progress.<br />

“We have to remove this idea that there’s a limit or the<br />

strange idea that if we have a certain amount it’s too<br />

many,” he said. “As opposed to if you really believe in<br />

equality, then we have an advantage. The thing about<br />

Alabama is we have a large Black community.”

The Achievement<br />

Gap’s Lasting Impact<br />

on Black Students<br />

Andrea Tinker<br />

Throughout history, Black students have suffered immense adversity within the education system due to systemic<br />

racism that’s showcased itself in many ways, including the racial achievement gap.<br />

According to an article from EducationWeek, the achievement gap references to the “disparity in academic performance<br />

between groups of students” and “is most often used to describe the troubled performance gaps between African-<br />

American and Hispanic students, at the lower end of the performance scale, and their non-Hispanic white peers.” The<br />

gap shows up in grades, standardized-test scores, course selection, dropout rates, college-completion rates and more.<br />

“There are many terms for the achievement gap, frankly I call it an ‘achievement gulf,’ it is massive, and it is a pandemic,”<br />

said Donna Y. Ford, a distinguished professor at Ohio State in the College of Education and Human Ecology and a<br />

Kirwan Institute faculty affiliate.<br />

Ford said an important thing to note about the gap is that it doesn’t say anything about what marginalized students<br />

are capable of, but how they perform compared to white students.<br />

In an article for EducationWeek, Eric Higgins, an assistant principal of a K-6 elementary school in Missouri’s St. Louis<br />

County, discussed how this perception of the achievement gap is dangerous because it creates an anti-Black narrative<br />

that isn’t taking into account the bigger picture.<br />

“It is true that many Black students and schools are not performing well on a variety of measures of academic success,<br />

but these outcomes go beyond school achievement,” Higgins said. “They are directly linked to systemic racism, unequal<br />

treatment, and the denial of opportunities for Black families subjugated to second-class citizenship.”<br />

According to a 2009 study from Barton and Coley, there are 16 factors that are most significant to the achievement gap,<br />

the most significant being the lack of rigor in courses.<br />

Ford said when she presents this study to educators, she often gets questions about what a “lack of rigor in courses”<br />

means.<br />

“I mean, your low-down expectations, that’s what the hell I mean. Your deficit thinking, that’s what the hell I mean,”<br />

she said. “You’re not placing us in gifted programs, that’s what the F, I mean, and you too often referring us for special<br />

education and discipline; that’s what I mean.”<br />

She said it’s a human-made variable that has the most<br />

significant effect “on why we are not doing as well as<br />

white students.”<br />

While the achievement gap is thought to only be in K-12,<br />

it is also prevalent in higher education. Students who<br />

are underachieving in preschool through 12th grade are<br />

often left wondering what to do in college.<br />

Ford said it can be confusing to those who do go to college<br />

who’ve been underachieving because there’s been no one<br />

there helping them figuring out what they are interested<br />

in and what they can do.<br />

“You just have no idea because you’ve not been pushed,<br />

you’ve not had the experiences that can point you in the<br />

right direction for higher education,” Ford said.<br />

Latrise Johnson, a UA associate professor in the college of<br />

education, said in Alabama specifically, lack of resources<br />

in school affect Black students.<br />

She said the difference in the achievement gap between<br />

K-12 and higher education is the courses and resources<br />

available to students.<br />

“They need the programs, they need the teachers, they<br />

need the resources, and the fact of the matter is, it’s just<br />

not it doesn’t happen, not here,” Johnson said.<br />

She said students who do not have access to Advanced<br />

Placement classes, AP prep classes, supplemental classes<br />

and after-school programs are at a disadvantage.<br />

However, in an article for educationevolving, Julie Sabo, a<br />

former educator and U.S Senator said that standardized<br />

tests are biased in dominant culture. They establish the<br />

traditional discriminatory practices that Black education<br />

has suffered from for decades, practices such as school<br />

admittance and employment were named.<br />

Standardized tests such as the ACT and SAT are also<br />

obstacles that stand in the way of Black students.<br />

“These tests are culturally biased, but we’re able<br />

to get camouflaging, that bias in language around<br />

standardization around normalization, around, you know,<br />

what students should and should not will should know,<br />

before they come to school,” Johnson said.<br />

She said it’s all about this standardized way of<br />

understanding the world and never has to do with culture<br />

knowledge or knowing a different language.<br />

“Because there aren’t necessarily resources that bridge<br />

gaps. From high school to college, there might be a few<br />

in terms of remedial classes... but usually those classes<br />

may not be enough, right. And it’s not necessarily about<br />

remediation, I think it’s more about being able to meet<br />

different standards for college,” Johnson said.<br />

Ford said the main effect of the achievement gap is that<br />

Black students do not reach their full potential.<br />

“I think it contributes to not just low grades and<br />

underachievement and low achievement. It contributes to<br />

low self-efficacy and agency and just I mean, I’m not trying<br />

to rattle them, just you just don’t reach your potential.<br />

You’re not challenged enough,” she said.<br />

Ford said the achievement gap has closed once; however,<br />

in her 30 years working in higher education, she hasn’t<br />

seen it close anymore.<br />

Johnson said that educators are still having the same<br />

conversations around the achievement gap.<br />

“We’re having the same conversations. We’re doing<br />

research in these areas for student achievement, but<br />

nothing is sticking. We’re still talking about Black<br />

students don’t do as well as their white counterparts,”<br />

Johnson said.

The Media's<br />

Representation<br />

of Education<br />

Ta'Kyla Bates and Jeffrey Kelly<br />

(ABC/Sayles)<br />

From “Lean on Me” and<br />

“Freedom Writers” to “Grown-<br />

Ish” and “Abbott Elementary,”<br />

the portrayal of education in media<br />

has achieved particular triumphs<br />

and pitfalls over the years while<br />

highlighting a meaningful and<br />

impactful part of people’s lives.<br />

However, while examining the<br />

industry’s portrayal of the classroom,<br />

certain negative connotations of<br />

marginalized groups throughout<br />

coverage seem to persist.<br />

Robert Bulman, a sociology professor<br />

at Saint Mary’s College of California,<br />

whose areas of interest include the<br />

sociology of education, culture,<br />

inequality, culture and film, watched<br />

about 185 movies for his research<br />

into how pop culture represents<br />

education for his book, “Hollywood<br />

Goes to High School: Cinema, Schools<br />

and American Culture.” From his<br />

research, Bulman said he found that<br />

films that focused on suburban white<br />

students allowed them to express<br />

themselves and learn from their<br />

mistakes. Whereas in instances where<br />

lower-income students, in particular<br />

urban public schools, are portrayed in<br />

films, which were usually nonwhite,<br />

education was represented as an<br />

opportunity that if they didn’t take<br />

it, they’d be failures.<br />

“The sociological argument I make<br />

is that these two contrasting images<br />

of what high school contrast sharply<br />

depending upon the race and the<br />

social class of the student,” he said.<br />

Bulman argued that these conflicting<br />

images contribute to Americans’<br />

conflicted views of adolescence, race,<br />

class and education and represent a<br />

“kind of white middle-class fantasy<br />

about how schools should work.”<br />

“I argue that the typical white middleclass<br />

moviegoer assumes that there<br />

are problems in urban education that<br />

lower-income nonwhite students<br />

don’t kind of believe in an education<br />

enough and that these films are kind<br />

of a way of getting the students on<br />

screen at least to suddenly see the<br />

world through their middle-class<br />

adult heroes, so they’re kind of savior<br />

complexes,” he said.<br />

Sarina Williams, a senior majoring in<br />

creative media, shared a similar view<br />

regarding Hollywood’s white savior<br />

archetype and how people of color<br />

are stereotyped. During a course<br />

on representation she’d taken in<br />

creative media, Williams delved into<br />

Hollywood’s history with the issue.<br />

“They have Black people play<br />

these characters that are kind of<br />

disadvantaged, and it’s almost like,<br />

you know, this white person is here to<br />

save them and get them out of their<br />

situations,” Williams said.<br />

Bulman said Hollywood doesn’t do<br />

anyone any favors by dismissing the<br />

structural context in which urban<br />

education takes place, allowing the<br />

average moviegoer to walk away from<br />

those films and think inequality can<br />

be solved simply by finding passionate<br />

teachers to mold students and help<br />

them apply themselves.<br />

“I think that the urban school films<br />

kind of feeds a narrative in this<br />

country, that the problem in urban<br />

20<br />


neighborhoods in urban schools is<br />

not a structural problem,” Bulman<br />

said.<br />

He said this is a dangerous message<br />

because the films gloss over how<br />

structural obstacles, like funding,<br />

curriculum, politics, or job<br />

opportunities, make achievement<br />

difficult and instead make the issue<br />

the students’ attitudes.<br />

It’s also important to note that these<br />

issues are prevalent in other forms<br />

of media, too. In a recent report<br />

from the Pew Research Center that<br />

surveyed nearly 5,000 Black adults,<br />

63% said “news about Black people is<br />

more negative than news about other<br />

groups.”<br />

Bulman said Americans tend to<br />

rely heavily on images to create<br />

judgments about schools, so with<br />

news media covering the education<br />

system’s negative aspects, often<br />

people have a negative implication of<br />

the education, but it also depends on<br />

proximity.<br />

“When we have more direct<br />

experience with the schools, I think<br />

we’re more sympathetic to the folks<br />

who run the schools and the students<br />

who are in them and tend to view<br />

them highly,” Bulman said. “I can’t<br />

prove that movies have much of an<br />

impact on our views, but I think I can<br />

make a logical inference.”<br />

The proximity and direct experience<br />

are also important when creating<br />

accurate media representation in film<br />

and television, which is why many<br />

have been taken by Quinta Brunson’s<br />

“Abbott Elementary,” an ABC sitcom<br />

following a group of teachers in a<br />

Philadelphia public school.<br />

Wiliams had been following Brunson<br />

since Brunson was working at<br />

BuzzFeed, so she was excited to<br />

watch her show when it came out.<br />

She said she likes the show because<br />

of the representation and because<br />

it’s loosely based on Brunson’s mom’s<br />

experience as a Philadelphia public<br />

school teacher.<br />

Lande Yoosuf, a writer, producer,<br />

director, and co-founder and<br />

partnerships director of Black<br />

Film Space, said she loves Abbott<br />

Elementary, and she thinks it’s<br />

blazing a trail for itself because it’s<br />

a new honest depiction of education,<br />

primarily from the teacher’s point of<br />

view, that displays how audiences are<br />

becoming savvier and won’t be spoonfed<br />

the white savior trope anymore.<br />

Many Black artists are working<br />

to create this type of honest<br />

representation. Yoosuf said she’s<br />

interested in showcasing characters<br />

“that have a lot of texture” in her<br />

work because it allows the writer<br />

to use media as an effective tool to<br />

incite discussion.<br />

However, she said it’s challenging to<br />

appeal to stakeholders and convince<br />

them that her art is worthy of a<br />

widespread platform.<br />

“There’s always a lot of trepidation<br />

and skepticism on whether or not<br />

people want to watch stuff made by<br />

Black folks,” Yoosuf said.<br />

She said before she started Black Film<br />

Spaces, which nurtures independent<br />

film and media creators, it was hard<br />

sometimes to get pitches or be seen<br />

and taken seriously.<br />

“I would have to be like persistent<br />

about certain things and push it<br />

through a lot of the times with much<br />

resistance,” Yoosuf said. “So that was<br />

tough, but I do feel like now that I<br />

run a nonprofit that supports Black<br />

Filmmakers, that I’m in a better<br />

position to affirm my stories and my<br />

perspectives.”<br />

Characters that diverge from set<br />

archetypes and have texture have also<br />

been one of the things that Williams<br />

enjoys about Abbott Elementary. She<br />

said she likes seeing the teachers<br />

outside of school because it shows<br />

that they are more than just teachers<br />

and how progressive the education<br />

system has become regarding<br />

representation.<br />

While representation in the<br />

educational landscape has shifted,<br />

Williams said things have also<br />

changed within the media. She said<br />

more shows are creating dynamic<br />

Black characters who are more than<br />

stereotypes, but there’s still more<br />

work to be done.<br />

“I definitely want to see more<br />

minorities on screen. I want<br />

minorities to be making things,”<br />

Williams said. “I want to see them<br />

make more things, get more things<br />

that are in the mainstream because<br />

that’s another thing there [are]<br />

probably a ton of black people making<br />

things, but they’re not considered<br />

mainstream.”<br />

Yoosuf said she’s ready to see more<br />

representation in the media.<br />

“Don’t just throw us a bone and then<br />

take it away,” she said. “I think this is<br />

just the beginning. I think there’s so<br />

much that we can do when it comes to<br />

our stories. So, I feel optimistic, but<br />

I’m also cautiously optimistic.”<br />

“I definitely want to see more<br />

minorities on screen. I want<br />

minorities to be making things.”<br />

(ABC/Gilles Mingasson)<br />

(ABC/Gilles Mingasson)<br />

22<br />


Taking a Side Hustle<br />

to a New Level<br />

Jemyah Wilson<br />

W<br />

hile<br />

discussing<br />

education, trades such<br />

as cosmetology often<br />

get left out of the conversation. Yet<br />

in recent years, with so much talent<br />

and instruction being created on<br />

social media, many people have been<br />

working to hone their skills.<br />

According to Zippia, a company that<br />

provides online recruitment services,<br />

there are over 149,230 cosmetologists<br />

employed in the United States.<br />

Nylah Billingsley, owner of NBstylez,<br />

a Stillman sophomore majoring<br />

in business management, studied<br />

cosmetology at Wallace Community<br />

College in Selma, Alabama in 2021<br />

and received her license in 2022.<br />

“My love of hair began when I was a<br />

young girl playing with dolls, and as I<br />

got older, I studied videos on YouTube<br />

of celebrity hairstylists to learn how<br />

to style like them,” Billingsley said.<br />

Billingsley said cosmetology school<br />

wasn’t difficult since she had some<br />

previous experience that put her<br />

ahead of her peers. She said she liked<br />

how everything was hands-on but<br />

found it exhausting to commit eight<br />

hours a day, five days a week to it.<br />

According to the Alabama board of<br />

cosmetology and barbering, students<br />

must complete a set of “school clock<br />

hours” and “apprentice clock hours”<br />

which can’t be combined along with<br />

a written and practical exam. The<br />

hours vary per classification, but for<br />

cosmetologists, it’s 1,500 school clock<br />

hours and 3,000 apprentice clock<br />

hours.<br />

Despite that, the only prerequisites<br />

needed to get a cosmetology license<br />

are to be 16 years old and have<br />

completed at least 10 grades in<br />

secondary school, which allowed Amia<br />

Wilson, a UA sophomore majoring in<br />

nursing, to get her license in high<br />

school.<br />

“I signed up for the cosmetology<br />

program at my school and once I<br />

became a senior, I went to take the<br />

prompter exam, and once I passed<br />

that I went to take the licensure<br />

exam,” Wilson said.<br />

She said initially it was challenging,<br />

“trying to learn the degrees of the<br />

angles, trying to cut the hair and<br />

the different techniques,” but she<br />

persisted.<br />

However, while they both have<br />

licenses Wilson and Billingsley<br />

consider cosmetology to be more of a<br />

side hustle than their primary focus.<br />

For Billingsley, who has a business<br />

that she still takes clients through, it<br />

has taken a back seat because of her<br />

busy schedule.<br />

“I enjoy doing hair, but since I’m a<br />

full-time student and an athlete,<br />

it’s really inconsistent, so it’s just a<br />

side hustle,” Billingsley said. “I intend<br />

to turn it into a career later on after I<br />

graduate from college.”<br />

Wilson said she does it when she has<br />

time, but it’s not an everyday activity.<br />

While they might not be actively<br />

using their licenses every day, having<br />

a cosmetology license can open up a<br />

world of opportunities for making<br />

money, meeting new people, or just<br />

having a creative outlet.<br />

For Tamira Thomspon, a UA junior<br />

majoring in business management,<br />

getting a cosmetology license will<br />

put her one step closer toward her<br />

goal of one day owning a nail spa.<br />

Thompson said that one day while<br />

sitting in an economics class she<br />

decided that she wanted to learn to<br />

do nails.<br />

“I did research all throughout class<br />

to find the best quality nail products<br />

and I impulsively bought everything<br />

that I would need to start,” she said.<br />

Since then, she’s spent time studying<br />

YouTube videos by licensed techs,<br />

social media influencers who shared<br />

tips and dedicated herself to studying<br />

nail anatomy, sanitation techniques,<br />

safety, hygiene and more. And with<br />

all the things she’s learned online and<br />

through practicing on herself, she<br />

feels ready to take on cosmetology<br />

school.<br />


27<br />

Black students spend less time in the classroom due to<br />

discipline, which further hinders their access to a quality<br />

education. Black students are nearly two times as likely<br />

to be suspended without educational services as white students.<br />

Black students are also 3.8 times as likely to receive<br />

one or more out-of-school suspensions as white students.<br />

In addition, black children represent 19 percent of<br />

the nation’s pre-school population, yet 47 percent of those<br />

receiving more than one out-of-school suspension- United<br />

Negro College Fund

Working While in College:<br />

The Good, the Bad and the Privileged<br />

Sophana Norville<br />

Each student’s journey through<br />

college is unique and comes with<br />

its own set of responsibilities,<br />

sacrifices and commitments to achieve<br />

academic success. For students who also<br />

work, many have found that they begin<br />

to take on even more roles.<br />

Erika Logan, a senior majoring in<br />

fashion merchandise, has been working<br />

at her apartment’s leasing office since<br />

her freshman year. She said working<br />

can be time consuming depending how<br />

many hours you work a week, but she’s<br />

found balance in her routine.<br />

“I usually try to work on assignments<br />

and start to study days ahead of the due<br />

date, so I’m not cramming everything<br />

in a short period of time,” Logan said.<br />

“But as for my social life, I don’t usually<br />

see friends until the weekends when<br />

I’m done with school and work for the<br />

week.”<br />

However, she said she’s been able to<br />

work shorter hours this year helping<br />

alleviate any interference working<br />

might have put on her.<br />

The reason for working while in school<br />

varies from person to person. Some<br />

students need to get a job to help them<br />

pay bills while others might do it just so<br />

they can keep themselves occupied. No<br />

matter what the reason is, having a job<br />

can be a struggle for everyone.<br />

According to a 2020 National Center<br />

for Education Statistics study, 74% of<br />

undergraduate students were working<br />

part-time while being enrolled in<br />

school.<br />

An added factor of stress in having a job<br />

while being in college is finding one.<br />

At the University of Alabama, there’s<br />

a variety of campus jobs that many<br />

students are vying for ease of location,<br />

an understanding that education comes<br />

first and connections to the campus<br />

community.<br />

College students have a variety of jobs<br />

they can choose from. Some prefer to<br />

work on campus and be closer to their<br />

classes. Other students work off campus<br />

at the local businesses in town where the<br />

hours may vary and fit their schedules.<br />

“I can also schedule my own hours which<br />

is nice,” said Giovanna Cinello, a senior<br />

majoring in criminal justice who works<br />

as a residential desk assistant. “There’s<br />

a good chance that I can get the hours I<br />

am looking for in that particular week.”<br />

It is a privilege not to have to work<br />

while being a student. It gives you the<br />

time to do other things that you like.<br />

Unfortunately, not having a job while<br />

in college is a luxury not everyone can<br />

afford to have.<br />

28<br />


There is no doubt college is expensive.<br />

Whether you are an in-state or out-of -state<br />

student, it costs money to attend school.<br />

The stress that comes with having a job and<br />

no financial assistance can be challenging<br />

for various reasons, but especially mentally.<br />

In college, students are going through so<br />

many new phases in life. Making sure you are<br />

getting the rest that you need in college is a<br />

key to your success, but how much rest can a<br />

full time student get while having a job.<br />

This is the struggle many college students<br />

face, like going through mental burnouts<br />

and not being able to stop because they can’t<br />

afford to. On the other hand there are students<br />

who live a little more comfortably because<br />

they have a job the same way that they have<br />

a hobby. They are able to still keep school as<br />

their main priority and not have the financial<br />

anxiety from their job, but it doesn’t negate<br />

the balancing act they must perform.<br />

While being a full time student you have to find<br />

a job that is flexible with your busy schedule.<br />

Having other commitments like being in clubs<br />

or Greek life are also time consuming. Having<br />

a manager that is understanding of the<br />

position you are in as a student is important.<br />

Making sure you are getting the amount of<br />

hours you need but also having time for your<br />

other obligations outside of work.<br />

Caroline Ford, the executive director at UPerk<br />

coffee downtown says that when it comes to<br />

scheduling her employees “I listen to what their<br />

schedules are and they put their time off in the<br />

app.”<br />

The most important thing about being a college<br />

student is making time to relax and breathe. It<br />

is easy to get caught up in just being on the go<br />

all the time. Having a moment to relax or hang<br />

out with friends is needed. This is something<br />

that should be encouraged for students with<br />

jobs too. Working while in school does not<br />

mean that you cannot have a social life and do<br />

the things you love. Stepping away from all the<br />

stress can be beneficial for your mental health.<br />

These years are meant to be some of the best<br />

times of our lives. You don’t want to look back<br />

and only remember stressing about work and<br />

classes.<br />

"All About Love" - bell hooks<br />

"All Boys Aren’t Blue" - George M. Johnson<br />

"Between the World and Me" - Ta-Nehisi Coates<br />

"Brown Girl Dreaming" - Jacqueline Woodson<br />

"Brutal Imagination" - Cornelius Eady<br />

"The Color Purple" - Alice Walker<br />

"Flyy Girl" - Omar Tyree<br />

"Go Tell It on the Mountain" - James Baldwin<br />

"The Hate U Give" - Angie Thomas<br />

"Heavy: An American Memoir" - Kiese Laymon<br />

"Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot" - Mikki<br />

Kendall<br />

"The House on Mango Street" - Sandra Cisneros<br />

"I Know Why the Caged Birds Sings" - Maya Angelou<br />

"Jazz" - Toni Morrison<br />

"The Kite Runner" - Khaled Hosseini<br />

"Monster" - Walter Dean Myers<br />

"Please" - Jericho Brown<br />

"The Poet X" - Elizabeth Acevedo<br />

"Roll of Thunder, Hear Me Cry" - Mildred D. Taylor<br />

"Sula" - Toni Morrison<br />

30<br />


Connecting with people in college can be<br />

tough, especially on a large campus like the<br />

University of Alabama, with over 38,000<br />

students and 2,054 faculty members. Often, students are<br />

left looking for meaningful connections not only within<br />

their friend groups, but with faculty, as well.<br />

Cassandra Simon, an associate professor in the School of<br />

Social Work, said that in order for faculty and<br />

students to create a connection, there’s a need for<br />

understanding from both parties. “Knowing a<br />

professor and having an opportunity to get to know<br />

them a little bit helps that student feel more<br />

comfortable, helps that student be willing to ask<br />

questions more, be able to share with that professor,”<br />

Simon said. She said that in the same regard, when<br />

professors take the time to get to know their<br />

students, they’re more attuned to when their<br />

students are a little “off-key” or not performing as they<br />

usually would.<br />

Andre Denham, the associate dean for graduate<br />

academic affairs, said students connecting with<br />

faculty is essential, especially at the graduate school<br />

level. “I think it’s part of the actual learning process,<br />

the maturation process of students,” Denham said.<br />

“Any school worth its salt, and UA’s a part of this, is big<br />

on mentorship on the undergrad and graduate level,<br />

especially more on the grad school level where the ties<br />

between the student and their advisor or particular<br />

faculty member are more— they’re tighter, because of<br />

the nature of graduate education.” However, Denham<br />

noted that it can be intimidating to initiate those<br />

relationships with professors,<br />

especially for students of color who often are met with<br />

professors who don’t look like them.<br />

According to the University’s Office of Institutional<br />

Research and Assessment, in fall 2022, out of the<br />

University’s 2,054 faculty members, 1,565 are white, and<br />

of the 489 who are people of color, only 168 are Black.<br />

Simon said oftentimes, faculty members who are not of<br />

color might not want to address the issues of<br />

mistrust between themselves and students of color, but<br />

as a Black woman, she always addresses those<br />

issues, including discussions of race. “I think that, race is<br />

one of the most problematic issues in our country and I<br />

think that no matter what class you’re teaching, that you<br />

kind of need to go ahead and put that out there and have<br />

that discussion about it and what that means to you as a<br />

faculty member,” she said. “And then that way you don’t<br />

have to act like it doesn’t exist when it really does and<br />

affects how we interact with one another.”<br />

This lack of communication with faculty can<br />

sometimes contribute to Black students’ feelings of<br />

imposter syndrome. Simon said imposter syndrome is<br />

a factor that students of color experience more while<br />

attending predominantly white institutions.<br />

Denham said that students connect better with<br />

faculty members who look like them or have similar<br />

backgrounds because they’re better at understanding<br />

each other’s experiences. “I mean, this is no secret<br />

PWIs, especially flagships have been working hard<br />

at diversifying the faculty for that reason,” he said.<br />

“They know it’s important for student retention and<br />

recruitment to make surethat there are faculty on<br />

campus that can assist students that look just like<br />

them.”<br />

Simon said another issue that can derail<br />

interpersonal relationships between faculty and<br />

students is some faculty members’ sense of<br />

importance. “Some faculty perpetuate this idea<br />

that we are somehow better than and our time<br />

is important, and we’re important people and<br />

then other faculty are much more engaging<br />

and open and make clear students know they<br />

want them around,” she said. She said this can<br />

at times create this mythology around faculty<br />

members, but they’re normal<br />

people. Simon and Denham also said some<br />

students think faculty members are hard to<br />

talk to because of how they are socialized.<br />

If students think that a faculty member is<br />

“untouchable” they will be less inclined to<br />

connect with them.<br />

Denham said the main way to connect with<br />

faculty is to meet them in the middle and<br />

for students to put themselves out there.<br />

There are various methods that students<br />

can use to talk to faculty. “I always<br />

recommend for students to become a<br />

member of the professional organization<br />

within their discipline,” Denham said.<br />

“Another way that probably underutilized<br />

is participate in undergraduate research,<br />

because then you’ll get kind of that taste of<br />

what’s going to happen in graduate school,<br />

you’ll probably also be around graduate<br />

students as well.”<br />

Simon said the best way for students to<br />

connect with faculty is to start by easing into<br />

conversations and talking to them more<br />

regularly after class. “I would probably do the<br />

easiest thing first, which would be to go up to<br />

their professor after class, or to sit in that<br />

professor and email after class and say, ‘Oh, I just<br />

wanted you to know that I enjoyed the<br />

lecture today,’” she said. “A lot of times we don’t<br />

get that kind of stuff.”<br />

Connecting with professors on such a big campus<br />

can be difficult, but it can also be an essential part to<br />

a student’s academic success.

Discussing Sexual<br />

Health Education<br />

With Five Horizons<br />

Jeffrey Kelly<br />

Conversations surrounding sex and sexual health can feel taboo or uncomfortable for many to discuss, regardless<br />

of age. However, it’s crucial, especially for young people, to be equipped with the language a high-quality sex<br />

education can provide to keep themselves and their partners healthy. However, as of Sept. 1, while 25 states and<br />

Washington, D.C., mandate sex education and HIV education, only 18 states require program content to be medically<br />

accurate, according to the Guttmacher Institute, and only 10 states require programs to provide instruction that is<br />

appropriate for a student’s cultural background and isn’t biased against any race, sex or ethnicity. <strong>Nineteen</strong> <strong>Fifty</strong>-<strong>Six</strong><br />

sat down with Five Horizon’s Rachel Queen, a registered nurse, and Iyana Diaz, outreach specialist and UA alum, to<br />

demystify a few misconceptions about sexual health education.<br />

Q: What are the biggest issues that y’all have seen<br />

regarding sexual health for people in Alabama or,<br />

specifically, Tuscaloosa?<br />

Queen: Having insurance to pay for their testing and<br />

treatment is a barrier for them. Outreach provides free<br />

testing in the community, but not everyone is aware of<br />

that, and then also they aren’t able to test for everything.<br />

So, they do have a rapid HIV test, they can test for<br />

gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomonas, but they don’t<br />

have a way to test for syphilis in the community, and there<br />

has been a big outbreak. That’s the biggest barrier that I<br />

have seen. Also, some people don’t have transportation,<br />

we try to use those resources that we have— we have<br />

some transportation resources.<br />

Diaz: I will definitely say those as well. And then another<br />

thing, especially like dealing with college students,<br />

depending on what kind of education you’ve got regarding<br />

sexual health, a lot of times there’s a superhero complex,<br />

so it’s like, it doesn’t affect me rather. So, we’re really<br />

trying to put out if you have sex, you need to get tested<br />

no matter what, every three to six months and then also<br />

because a lot of people don’t have that, like sexual health<br />

education, they don’t think— they don’t really know what<br />

all sex entails.<br />

34<br />

So, some people think like, if you just have oral sex, it’s<br />

not really sex, you can’t get like the same STIs or STDs as<br />

you can get in the genital area, but again, it’s oral sex— so<br />

just really knowing what sex is [and] all that it entails. I<br />

think a lot of times, people don’t really understand that.<br />

That’s why we really try to be out in the community as<br />

much as possible while we’re always on campus doing the<br />

sexual health forums and education sessions.<br />

Q: When y’all are reaching out to the community, what are<br />

the most common questions that you get when it comes<br />

to sexual health?<br />

Queen: I will speak to some clients that come in the clinic<br />

and maybe have an oral like gonorrhea chlamydia in their<br />

throat. They do not realize that they can get gonorrhea<br />

and chlamydia and their throat from performing oral sex,<br />

and then they don’t realize that someone performing<br />

oral sex on them can allow them to get gonorrhea and<br />

chlamydia in like they’re penis, vagina, rectum. That’s a<br />

common, I guess, question people have for us.<br />

Also, I think, you know, the CDC recommends that anyone<br />

who’s sexually active is on PrEP, which is HIV<br />

prevention medication. A lot of people think that, you<br />

know, they are not going to contract HIV; that’s just<br />

more in the gay community. Well, everyone is at risk for<br />

contracting HIV, and also people do not realize that it<br />

does not matter if you have insurance, or you do not have<br />

insurance; we can get your PrEP medication for free.<br />

Diaz: Another thing about PrEP is, like, I don’t even have<br />

sex that much like it only takes one time. Another<br />

one is like condom usage; people don’t like<br />

using condoms. A lot of times, I hear<br />

it doesn’t feel the same, or it doesn’t<br />

fit a lot of time, not knowing how to<br />

put the condom on appropriately. I<br />

didn’t know how to put the condom on<br />

properly until I started working here. In<br />

all honesty, I didn’t know about PrEP till I<br />

started working here.<br />

But a lot of times, they think they don’t need condoms<br />

because they’re only with one person. Yeah, that’s just<br />

another preventative measure that we’re really trying to<br />

put out there and then show them that there’s so many<br />

different condoms; just try and figure out what works<br />

best for you. It’s better to have that layer of protection<br />

rather than not doing anything at all.<br />

A lot of times, whenever I have like<br />

clients, I’ll ask them, “Do you feel anxious<br />

after you have sex, especially when it’s<br />

unprotected?” And they’re always like,<br />

“yeah,” well, another way to combat that<br />

is to make sure you use condoms, make<br />

sure you get on PrEP, even if you don’t get<br />

off PrEP, using condoms, at least just figuring out what<br />

works best for you. And then another thing about that<br />

is like it’s putting the ball back in their court and giving<br />

them like their autonomy over their health.<br />

STD<br />

Q: A 2023 article from Planned Parenthood discussed how<br />

sex education “teaches young people the importance of<br />

treating everyone with dignity and respect, with racial<br />

justice, fairness, and compassion for others as core<br />

values.” What are your opinions on sex education as a tool<br />

for teaching people dignity and respect?<br />

Diaz: For me, it kind of goes back to, like,<br />

eliminating the stigma and treating it like<br />

another infection, like COVID and flu, like I said<br />

before. You wouldn’t stigmatize somebody or<br />

ostracize somebody if they were to have one<br />

of those, and it’s really the same thing, just<br />

in a different area of the body.<br />

So, I definitely feel like it’s a way to show<br />

people dignity because everybody has sex,<br />

whether they want to say it or not. For the most part,<br />

everybody has sex; it’s pleasurable to people, or it’s<br />

pleasurable in general, that’s why people do it. And then<br />

people do it for other reasons, too. So, like, sometimes we<br />

equate it to food, like people, stress eat, when they’re mad,<br />

or sad, people might have sex when they’re sick because<br />

they feel better. People might not have housing or things<br />

like that, and that’s a reason why they have sex. But it’s<br />

just people come from every different walk of<br />

life, people have different reasons why they<br />

do things, and that applies to sex, too.<br />

Yeah, I just feel like, unless you look at<br />

them as a person, because that’s who we<br />

are at the basis, we all have desires and<br />

wants, just because other desires and wants<br />

may be different. Or you might have differing views on<br />

these things. That doesn’t mean that you get to ostracize<br />

somebody just because of the choice that they made.<br />

Test<br />


Silence and Stigma:<br />

The Burden of Mental Health for People of Color<br />

at a Predominately White Institution<br />

Jazymne Isaac<br />

As college students, learning to constantly<br />

exceed personal, academic and professional<br />

expectations seems necessary to succeed.<br />

However, this can also lead to burnout and a decline in<br />

mental health.<br />

In an article from the 2022 Journal of Affective<br />

Disorders, in 2020-2021, more than 60% of students met<br />

the criteria for one or more mental health problems.<br />

However, according to The Clay Center for Young<br />

Healthy Minds, students of color experience higher<br />

levels of loneliness and emotional stress, as well as other<br />

mental health challenges like depression, anxiety and<br />

hopelessness, compared to white students.<br />

SaNiah Dawson, a senior majoring in psychology, said<br />

being a Black person and a first-generation student at a<br />

predominantly white institution has been a lot. She said<br />

her first year was full of unknowns and nerve-racking,<br />

but she overcame it.<br />

“I think focusing on my purpose is really what’s keeping<br />

me going,” she said. “But the stress, the burnout, it’s<br />

real; it’s here.”<br />

For Kailah Trice, a second-year graduate student in<br />

creative writing, after spending her undergraduate<br />

matriculation at Tuskegee University, a historically<br />

Black university, going to a PWI brought up a few<br />

reservations.<br />

Trice’s brother, who’d gone to a PWI, hadn’t had the<br />

best experience, so her experience was colored by his,<br />

yet Trice said so far, her experience hasn’t been “nearly<br />

as bad.”<br />

Jennifer Turner, a licensed professional counselor and<br />

the University’s assistant director of clinical services,<br />

said, “Of course,” being at a PWI impacts the mental<br />

health of Black students.<br />

For Trice, attending a PWI came with personal added<br />

pressure. She said growing up in Atlanta she was<br />

surrounded by Black and brown people, so going to an<br />

HBCU felt like home. Yet, in high school, during a state<br />

competition with 4-H, a national youth development<br />

organization, her teacher warned them that “you have<br />

to be twice as good to get half as much. You have to be<br />

perfect.”<br />

“That’s a lot of pressure on a kid, especially when you’re<br />

just trying to do your best, but your best is never going to<br />

be good enough,” she said. “So I was like, I’m gonna come<br />

here and try to do my best, and it’s not going to be good<br />

enough.”<br />

However, Trice said she mainly feels that pressure from<br />

herself rather than outside sources. She remembered<br />

a time after class during her first year when she told<br />

a classmate that she didn’t think her work was about<br />

anything, and her friend yelled at her to get that out of<br />

her mind.<br />

Turner said it could also be challenging for students of<br />

color to acclimate to their new setting for various reasons,<br />

whether they’re from out of state, first-generation<br />

students, or having trouble finding community on campus.<br />

This transitional phase of adjusting to the campus<br />

environment can be exacerbated simply by being<br />

the only person of color in a classroom or suffering<br />

microaggressions.<br />

“Microaggressions plague students in a lot of ways,”<br />

Turner said. “They undermine students’ self-confidence.<br />

They make students question whether or not they belong<br />

someplace besides just making people angry and besides<br />

just exhausting people because they deal with it every<br />

day.”<br />

She said these microaggressions, whether intended or<br />

accidental, can play into a student’s feelings of imposter<br />

syndrome, where they always have to justify belonging in<br />

a place.<br />

Dawson said she sometimes felt like stereotypes were<br />

projected on her when telling her story to people. She<br />

said it made her feel like she wasn’t good enough, even<br />

though she knew she was and inspired her to want to help<br />

other freshmen in similar situations.<br />

“That’s why I started my organization, Capstone<br />

Association of Black Psychologists,” she said.<br />

36<br />


The organization will help connect Black psychology students with resources, bring more awareness<br />

about mental health and help decolonize the psychology curriculum.<br />

“We’re trying to make the psychological curriculum and the methods more inclusive for the Black<br />

community and make sure they’re taking in the oppression that we deal with, the racism that we deal<br />

with, just the stereotypes,” Dawson said.<br />

Turner said that some people, including mental health professionals, might not understand why<br />

students of color’s burnout look different from their white counterparts. She said suffering those<br />

“1,000 cuts” can have an impact that the majority might not realize until they’re in a situation where<br />

they’re not in the majority.<br />

Dawson agreed with this sentiment. She said it’s essential to have professionals aware of what Black<br />

people have to deal with and be willing to research them.<br />

To help avoid burnout and maintain one’s mental health and sense of self, Turner suggested self-care<br />

activities like journaling, enjoying nature and doing purposeful work.<br />

When trying to find good self-care practices, Turner suggested thinking about long-term and<br />

sustainable things. Sometimes self-care can look like setting boundaries, sticking to a nighttime<br />

routine for adequate sleep, eating every day, or just planning fun activities like spending time with<br />

friends or going to the movies.<br />

When she needs help with imposter syndrome and stress, Trice said she looks to her friends and<br />

brother when she’s having trouble and advises other students to cheer for themselves.<br />

“Don’t ever shrink yourself, and don’t ever doubt yourself because you got to be your first cheerleader<br />

because if you can’t cheer for you, nobody else can,” she said.<br />

Dawson suggested students love themselves and give themselves grace because college is hard enough<br />

without the added pressure you might put on yourself, so as long as you’re doing your best, that’s<br />

enough.<br />


Study Tips and Tricks<br />

Jordan Huggins<br />

40<br />

1.Go to class.<br />

Your presence is necessary to understand course material and<br />

build a relationship with your professors.<br />

2.Talk to your professors.<br />

Your professors have office hours for a reason; find time to make<br />

yourself known to them. Professors are more inclined to help and<br />

support students who make themselves available to them.<br />

3.Prioritize yourself.<br />

Remember that it’s okay to say no. So, take breaks; you’re not a<br />

machine and don’t need to be; it’s okay to take time to relax.<br />

4.Make a study playlist.<br />

Music is a great tool to help you focus. Whether it’s some Lo-fi<br />

beats or Afro-beats, find some music that calms you and helps<br />

you focus.<br />

5.Make a study schedule.<br />

Set aside time each school day to do homework, review notes<br />

and read course material. Scheduling study time into your day<br />

can help you complete your work on time and accurately.<br />

6.Find your studying spot.<br />

The setting where you study is also particularly important.<br />

Regardless of the venue, find a place and stick to it. Your brain loves<br />

familiarity, so studying in the same place will help you study more<br />

efficiently.<br />

7. Get organized.<br />

Set reminders on your phone or computer for upcoming tests and<br />

assignments or add due dates to a digital or physical calendar.<br />

Keep all the coursework for your classes in designated areas, such<br />

as a notebook or binder.<br />

8.Utilize resources.<br />

The Career Center offers assistance for students who need to build<br />

resumes, interview practice, headshots and more. In addition, the<br />

Capstone Center for Student Success offers free tutoring in any<br />

course.<br />

9.Find a study buddy.<br />

Find someone who will give you the push you need to stay consistent.<br />

Having someone that keeps you accountable and that you keep<br />

accountable boosts your chances of staying on task.<br />

10. Be confident in yourself.<br />

Don’t be afraid to take risks and step out of your comfort zone. Have<br />

the mindset that anything you are faced with is achievable. Don’t be<br />

afraid to fail because eventually you will succeed.<br />


In fall 2020, there were 2.4 million<br />

Black students enrolled in degreegranting<br />

postsecondary institutions.<br />

Thirteen percent of U.S. resident<br />

students enrolled in degree-granting<br />

institutions were Black. - National<br />

Center for Education Statistics

Kendal Wright<br />

To help prepare a new generation of Black<br />

educators for the workforce, a few Black students<br />

at The University of Alabama have taken the<br />

initiative and created Black Aspiring Scholars in<br />

Education and Exercise Science to contribute to<br />

the College of Education.<br />

BASE’s President Lauren Lee, a junior majoring<br />

in kinesiology, described BASE as an<br />

organization focused on not only networking<br />

and finding leadership opportunities for Black<br />

students but bringing them together in the<br />

College of Education.<br />

Along with the help of the organization’s six<br />

executive board members, BASE’s director of<br />

external affairs Gabby Kirk, a junior majoring in<br />

education and history, said the executive board<br />

conceptualized the organization after realizing<br />

that there was no club on campus for Black<br />

students within the College of Education.<br />

McHargh also shared multiple other student<br />

recruitment pursuits like facilitating visits to<br />

community colleges like<br />

Lawson State Community College and<br />

Jefferson State Community College and working<br />

“closely with transfer admission counselors to<br />

educate and facilitate entry into our teacher<br />

education programs.”<br />

“The students are developing excellent<br />

opportunities for the members to participate in a<br />

variety of activities for professional and<br />

leadership development,” said Elizabeth Wilson,<br />

the interim dean of the College of Education, in<br />

a statement.<br />

Lee said she felt like Black students within the<br />

college of education lacked a way of getting<br />

connected and engaging with each other and<br />

through BASE, new connections can be<br />

facilitated.<br />

So, after two meetings with Carlton McHargh,<br />

the director of enrollment and student success,<br />

Kirk and her peers were finalizing what steps<br />

they needed to make BASE come to life by the<br />

end of Spring semester in May.<br />

With the current climate for teachers in<br />

America being as unfavorable as they have been,<br />

Kirk hopes BASE will help encourage retention<br />

within the field of education.<br />

Korynn Hill, a recent UA alum and BASE’s former<br />

senior advisor, said that BASE helped her<br />

“understand how important it is to have a<br />

community, especially for Black educators.”<br />

As a new teacher at the Alberta School of<br />

Performing Arts, without having BASE in her<br />

undergrad, Hill encourages those who will to<br />

“take away things that people bring to the table<br />

[because] everybody has a different perspective.”<br />

According to a RAND study, one in four<br />

teachers surveyed planned to quit teaching<br />

following the 2020-2021 school year, with<br />

Black teachers being particularly likely, due in part<br />

to the stress of teaching in a disjointed classroom<br />

environment caused by the pandemic and racial<br />

tensions in the United States at the time.<br />

As these trends continue to persist with the<br />

percentage of Black teachers declining, with only<br />

6% of teachers in 2020-21 being Black, according<br />

to the National Center for Education Statistics,<br />

and the demand for helping hands in the<br />

classroom rising, many have noticed a problem of<br />

lack of representation in the classroom.<br />

“Our goal is to just ensure that we’re going to<br />

enter education or even exercise science,<br />

kinesiology, essentially whatever you enter into<br />

with a college education,” Kirk said.<br />

McHargh said the college of education has been<br />

very intentional about recruiting students from<br />

diverse backgrounds.<br />

“The Ambassadors and members of BASE<br />

presented valuable information to the<br />

[Tuscaloosa Central School] students and<br />

encouraged them to consider the University,”<br />

McHargh said in a statement. “We have also<br />

actively been recruiting students from diverse<br />

backgrounds at ‘Bama in Your Town’ events<br />

sponsored by the Office of Admissions.”<br />

The meshing of experiences allows students<br />

within the organization to better connect with<br />

their peers. Relationships fostered within BASE<br />

will allow students to build a network that they’ll<br />

be able to engage with following graduation and<br />

into their careers.<br />

To stay up to date with what BASE has coming up<br />

in the future, follow their Instagram and/or reach<br />

out to @base_coe.<br />

“Send us an email, send us a message,” Lee said.<br />

“We are here for you and we’re going to do as<br />

much as we can while you’re here.”<br />

44<br />


46<br />

The Black Alumni<br />

Association:<br />

Paving the Way for the Next Generation<br />

Sophana Norville<br />

Since 2016, the Black Alumni Association, a chapter of the University of<br />

Alabama’s National Alumni Association, has spent each year fostering<br />

alumni engagement, scholarship and mentorship between its extensive<br />

network of alums and Black UA students.<br />

Stacey Hill, BAA’s immediate past president, who works alongside current<br />

president Derek Cunningham, said what she loves most about the association is<br />

that it creates a formal network of Black students on campus out of an informal<br />

circle that’s been growing since Vivian Malone became the first Black person to<br />

graduate in 1965.<br />

“It puts us in a position to really be able to organize, to address issues that we<br />

face as alumni, things that are incredibly important to us, such as supporting<br />

scholarships and mentoring and supporting the students that are there now at<br />

the Capstone and being able to support them after they graduate,” Hill said.<br />

Along with their goals of increasing “minority participation and presence at<br />

the University,” according to its website, the association is also responsible for<br />

awarding and funding six minority preference endowed scholarships, like the<br />

Pollie Anne Myers-Pinkins AAAN Endowed scholarship, to which they fundraise<br />

for through events like their annual “Houndstooth and Heels: Black Alumni<br />

Weekend,” which this year will be hosted in Birmingham in November.<br />

Hill said they’re always looking to expand their scholarships.<br />

“We have grown that endownment to about 250,000 dollars we have a goal to<br />

get that endownment to a million dollars,” she said. “And even now we’re able<br />

to award pretty significant scholarships to rising juniors an rising seniors to<br />

ensure they are able to finish school.”<br />

Andrea Maxwell, a UA alum and current member of the BAA, said that there<br />

wasn’t a BAA when she was attending the University, but as her daughter<br />

prepared to follow in her footsteps byin attending the University, the association<br />

was extremely helpful and even continued to reach out to her daughter as she<br />

continued on at the University.<br />

Maxwell said she also enjoys the way the association<br />

provides outreach and gives Black alums opportunities<br />

to get together.<br />

The Black Alumni Association hosts several events<br />

throughout the year that serve all aspects of their<br />

goals as an organization. One event is the “Through<br />

The Doors” freshman pinning ceremony, which gives<br />

the organization a moment to uplift freshmen Black<br />

students and showcase the legacy they’re following.<br />

These opportunities allow not only a time to fundraise<br />

for students, but also fellowship.<br />

Ocie Fulford, the association’s vice president, said<br />

one thing he thinks fondly of is having something<br />

like the Black Alumni Associaition that allows them<br />

to come together and have an opportunity to have a<br />

“real holistic, organic experience.”<br />

These events are a great way to connect with<br />

students and get them involved. It is important that<br />

students know that an organization like the Black<br />

Alumni Association is available to them because<br />

the mentorship and networking opportunities can<br />

be beneficial as they continue their college and<br />

profesional journey.<br />

Mentorship especially can be an important part of<br />

college simple for the advice and community they can<br />

foster with a student.<br />

“One of the things the BAA wants to do is to continue<br />

innovation but really speak to the hearts and minds<br />

of people coming after us so that they can see the<br />

importance of continuing to connect with each other<br />

and spreading the love we have for the university,”<br />

Fulford said.<br />

Hill said as the Black Alumni Association continues<br />

to grow and a is only going to keep expanding and<br />

reaching the community and students.<br />

Cunningham encouraged those to become a member<br />

and get engaged in what the organization has to offer.<br />

It is a great way to stay involved but in a different light.<br />

They are truly paving the way for the future Black<br />

alumni who can also join the organization and become<br />

mentors. Compared to other Alumni Associations the<br />

BAA is fairly new but this does not mean they have<br />

not been making an impact already. The BAA has done<br />

so much for the Black students at the university and<br />

will continue to serve the community.

48<br />




Jeffrey Kelly<br />

How one professor is using community engagement<br />

and mentorship to create connection and<br />

facilitate change throughout the University and<br />

Alabama.<br />

Propped up against a mini-bookshelf in the<br />

right corner of Dr. Pamela Payne Foster’s office<br />

sits a whiteboard full of projects that she<br />

is collaborating on, including lupus clinical trials,<br />

COVID-19 vaccine accessibility, chronic kidney disease<br />

research, an Alabama literacy project and artificial<br />

intelligence, which contribute to her various research<br />

interests in public health of rural and underserved<br />

communities in Alabama.<br />

For Dr. Foster, a preventative medicine/public health<br />

physician and a College of Community Health Sciences<br />

professor of community medicine and population<br />

health, collaboration has been the foundation for how<br />

she’s navigated her career for almost 18 years at the<br />

University of Alabama.<br />

Her passion for community-based participatory<br />

research has created impactful work for the Alabama<br />

community like Project FAITHH, which aimed to<br />

decrease HIV/AIDS-related stigma in rural Alabama by<br />

implementing a faith-based anti-stigma curriculum<br />

among Black churchgoers.<br />

And while for some, the continuous commitment to so<br />

much would burn someone out, Foster handles it all<br />

with ease and a smile because of her students.<br />

“The students keep me motivated; their energy and<br />

enthusiasm keep me kind of going,” she said. “I do a<br />

lot of mentoring, and so that gives me a lot of lot of<br />

enthusiasm. I love to mentor students that are going<br />

to go on to do better than me, right? Like, right now,<br />

I have a student that I mentored in his PhD program.”<br />

As two students stopped by her office to drop by and<br />

say hello, it was easy to see how influential Dr. Ford<br />

had been to her students.<br />

This ingenuity toward community engagement and<br />

a commitment to mentorship are qualities Dr. Foster<br />

showcased that earned her nomination and won the<br />

2023 Lahoma Adams Buford Peace Award last May<br />

in recognition of her advocacy in public health. The<br />

award that Dr. Ford said felt like a testament to all the<br />

work she’d done.<br />

Karen Johnson, an assistant professor, one of Dr.<br />

Foster’s mentees and the person who nominated<br />

her, sat amongst two and a half tables full of excited<br />

supporters inside the Tuscaloosa River Market when<br />

Dr. Foster received her award.<br />

“I cried,” Johnson said. “I was cheering, tearful, I just<br />

left like was, you know, it’s just such a well-deserved<br />

moment.”<br />

Shameka Cody, an associate professor in the Capstone<br />

College of Nursing, said she was also a little teary and<br />

couldn’t think of a better recipient than Dr. Foster<br />

because she’s touched people in the community and<br />

helped get them to the work they desire to do.<br />

“Not only does she directly impact people in the<br />

community, but she connects people together to<br />

different resources so that they can do the work to<br />

impact the people out here in the community,” Cody<br />

said.<br />

Johnson said Dr. Foster stood head and shoulders above<br />

the other nominees. She said Dr. Foster’s training and<br />

pedigree of academic and for the pursuit of peace<br />

accomplishments.<br />

“She demonstrated excellence in every single area<br />

and then beyond. Academically, her contributions<br />

to science and the field were incredibly varied and<br />

impactful and then in terms of the local community<br />

in Alabama, she’s actively serving the community<br />

with her research with, her time and her skills, both<br />

as a medical doctor, as a researcher and a community<br />

activist,” Johnson said.<br />

Dr. Foster said that winning the award felt fantastic<br />

and humbling because she knew some winners, like<br />

Bryan Fair, Rhoda Johnson, Ellen Spears and Lea Yerby.<br />

“I was also humbled that somebody was watching me I<br />

appreciate it,” Dr. Foster said.<br />

Cody said it’s been inspirational to watch Dr. Foster<br />

as a researcher in the field of HIV. She said when it<br />

comes to mentoring, Dr. Foster constantly makes<br />

herself available to Cody and checks on her mental<br />

and physical wellbeing.<br />

“Being a mentor is more than just checking in about<br />

the work that’s being done, but we really have to check<br />

on our mentees and make sure that they are actually<br />

doing well mentally and physically so that they can<br />

be the best scholar that they’re set to be and that I<br />

appreciate,” Cody said.<br />


IN<br />




Ta’Kyla Bates and Jeffrey Kelly<br />

How one professor’s commitment to<br />

racial justice has evolved after 20+<br />

years as an educator.<br />

Growing up, George Daniels was surrounded by<br />

educators; his mom and grandmother were teachers<br />

and many others in his family. Daniels felt teaching<br />

was his calling, referring to it as a “spiritual gift.” Although<br />

Daniels considers himself a journalist by trade, after working<br />

in the newsroom for eight years, he decided to be a “journalist<br />

who does teaching.”<br />

As he approaches his 21st year teaching at The University<br />

of Alabama as an associate professor in the College of<br />

Communication and Information Sciences, <strong>Nineteen</strong> <strong>Fifty</strong>-<br />

<strong>Six</strong> Magazine sat down with Daniels to discuss his educational<br />

journey within the University and what the future holds for<br />

him.<br />

Q: How has the University changed since coming here 21 years<br />

ago?<br />

Daniels: Well, I think the biggest change is the size of our<br />

school. The second would be the profile of our school, and<br />

gradually, the level of racial and ethnic diversity of our school<br />

has changed. When I say that, not necessarily the percentage<br />

to a great extent, but the numbers overall are greater in terms<br />

of the racial diversity of our faculty and our students, so that<br />

is definitely a delight. It is aligned with the raising of the<br />

University’s profile dramatically from where it was in 2003<br />

when I joined, and I think that puts us in a position for the<br />

future.<br />

50<br />

Q: In May 2022, you got a Fulbright and participated in<br />

the pilot cohort of “the Global Challenges Teaching Award<br />

through the US-UK Fulbright Commission and American<br />

Council on Education.” What was that experience like, and<br />

how has that shaped your current work?<br />

Daniels: My focus was on racial justice, and it aligned with the<br />

teaching that I was doing at the University in the area of race,<br />

gender and media that was a class that we still offer; in fact,<br />

I’m teaching it this semester. So, at the time, the Fulbright<br />

award was the biggest award I’d ever received. It certainly<br />

is an international opportunity to globalize the work that<br />

we’re doing here in Tuscaloosa. It also allows me to put the<br />

Tuscaloosa students, the Tuscaloosa experience and the West<br />

Alabama experience when it comes to race on a national and<br />

international stage.<br />

There are three faculty from the U.S. and three faculty from<br />

the U.K. who were given those awards last year, the real benefit<br />

of that was not the award for 2022 to 2023. It was the training<br />

in what’s called collaborative online international learning, or<br />

COIL, and what that involves is you, as a student, match up<br />

with another student internationally, and together, you learn.<br />

As instructors, there is a way that we teach a class so that<br />

that collaboration can happen and that that collaboration can<br />

happen in an international environment and it can happen<br />

online. The training for that was probably about four months,<br />

very intensive, summer 2022, but the result is I now know<br />

how to develop a class and how to engage students with<br />

students at another institution. We’re working right now to<br />

establish another run of that class or another semester where<br />

our students in Reese Phifer will connect with students in<br />

Liverpool, hopefully as early as 2024-2025.<br />

Q: When it comes to racial justice, what do you think those<br />

discussions look like at the academic level at the University of<br />

Alabama?<br />

Daniels: You’re not happening enough. We need to have them<br />

in a more intentional way. There are more voices that are<br />

speaking up in those discussions as late as this week. In fact,<br />

today in my race, gender and media class, we’re going to be<br />

working with a project that just came out that raises Asian<br />

American voices in that discussion about racial justice as a new<br />

book that is addressing that perspective in a news context.<br />

The students in my ration immediate class read about it, but<br />

we’re going to hear what Asian Americans are saying about<br />

that topic. We also know that the current discussion about<br />

voting is aligned with racial injustice. In many cases, when you<br />

disenfranchise voters, you bring into the mix a conversation<br />

that has been underway for decades and has been front and<br />

center here in Alabama. So that topic about race is constantly<br />

changing and developing and evolving, and that’s what makes<br />

what I do exciting, but at the same time, challenging because<br />

you’ve got to stay on top of all the things that are that are<br />

shifting and changing, but we have more people engaged in<br />

that conversation, and I hope that that will only continue.<br />

Q: How has it been working in these spaces as a Black man<br />

while it’s changing? How has that experience been?<br />

Daniels: It’s challenging. You’re trying to keep up; you’re also<br />

trying to bring into the mix new perspectives to students in<br />

the class, but also to your research. I’m finishing a book right<br />

now on ethnic media, and they’re constantly crises that are<br />

developing. So, we have to figure out, do we put that in the<br />

book, or do we wait until the next book? We have a deadline<br />

in December, so we got to finish up whatever we have. That<br />

means there’s always material for another book when it comes<br />

to teaching. You bring in new examples to classes for students<br />

to unpack, but then also recognize that everybody is not<br />

going to want to talk about some of these topics, especially<br />

as it relates to race. So, you have to be ready for the pushback.<br />

You have to be ready for the discomfort to be expressed, the<br />

opposition to be expressed. At the same time, recognize<br />

that your goal as an instructor is to open up minds, not close<br />

minds. If we can open you to a different perspective, whether<br />

or not you agree is a whole other discussion. But in doing so,<br />

if we can get you to open your mind up, maybe we can make<br />

some progress in our ability as a country to handle the very<br />

challenging topic of race, racial difference, racial indifference,<br />

racial justice, racial injustice.<br />

Q: What are some personal goals that you’re looking to achieve<br />

and working towards now for this year?<br />

Daniels: I think the biggest one is to get my next books out.<br />

The one I was mentioning earlier we’re finishing the end of<br />

the year, and then I have another one that I hope to finish<br />

in 2024, which focuses on diversifying media education. It’s<br />

called “Barrier Breakers: Media Educators Meeting Diversity<br />

Challenge Across the Decades,” it looks at our journey over<br />

really 80 years to diversify media education starting in 1942<br />

and then coming forward to 2022. We’re not there yet, but<br />

we have a story to tell. I think finishing those books is an<br />

immediate goal of mine. What else will come? I don’t know,<br />

we’ll see.<br />


Tide Trailblazers<br />

Meet Eight Black Faculty and Staff Members Who Are Leaving Their Mark On Campus<br />

Gabby Blackshear<br />

Chris Crawford, a computer science associate professor and 2016 UA alum, currently serves<br />

as the Human Technology Interaction lab director. His research focuses on human-robot<br />

interaction and brain-computer interfaces. A devoted researcher, Crawford has earned<br />

numerous awards for his work, including an National Science Fair CAREER award. He has<br />

also been featured in Forbes, the New York Times and USA Today for his groundbreaking<br />

brain-drone racing system.<br />

The University of Alabama is known for being a well-oiled machine with an athletics<br />

department with exceptional prowess, an expansive network of alums and a picturesque<br />

1,200-acre campus. However, with such a large population of faculty, staff and students, many<br />

significant pieces of the machine get overlooked.<br />

According to the University’s Office of Institutional Research and Asssment, in fall 2022, of the<br />

2,054 faculty members, only 168 are Black. As the University continues its work towards a more<br />

diverse, equitable and inclusive campus, here’s a list highlighting eight remarkable Black faculty<br />

and staff members leaving their mark on campus.<br />

Chris Crawford<br />

Briana Royster is an assistant professor in the department of gender and race studies,<br />

where she specializes in African diaspora history, the histories of Black women with<br />

a focus on religion and American Black history, specifically its relation to Black<br />

internationalism. She has published a book that focuses on Black women and voting<br />

rights in Birmingham after 1920, and she is currently working on a book tentatively<br />

titled, “’Of Our Stock and Blood’: Black Missionaries, the Guianas, and Global Racial<br />

Progress, 1839-1945.”<br />

Briana Royster<br />

Yolanda Manora<br />

Yolanda Manora is an assistant professor who’s a member of the English, American studies,<br />

and gender and race studies departments. Manora teaches many topics, including advanced<br />

African-American literature and advanced American literature. As an Americanist, Manora’s<br />

research focuses on issues related to race, class, gender, sexuality and subjectivity in texts by<br />

20th/21st century women writers of color. Manora is currently working on a project titled<br />

“The Uninsinging,” which is a collection of prose poetry and lyric essays exploring growing<br />

up as a Black girl/woman in the South from post-Civil Rights Movement decades through<br />

the Black Lives Matter.<br />

JoAnn Oliver<br />

JoAnn Oliver is a distinguished nursing professor who’s left an indelible mark on the field<br />

through her numerous accolades, including being an American Academy of Nursing fellow.<br />

Additionally, Oliver’s a member of the Alabama Cancer Coalition, where her leadership<br />

played a pivotal role in crafting the state’s comprehensive cancer plan. She is currently<br />

working on two international research projects focused on metastatic prostate cancer<br />

treatment and prostate cancer genomics. She is also helping to lead an interventional<br />

study addressing chronic kidney disease among rural Alabamaians.<br />

52<br />

Tara Mock serves as an assistant professor in the University’s Honors College. Within the<br />

corridors of Honors Hall, Mock takes students on an intellectual journey through her various<br />

teaching interests that focus on Modern Africa, Africa-China relations, diaspora, cultural<br />

identity and community formation, globalization, and historical memory. Currently, she just<br />

completed her first book, which focuses on historical and contemporary constructions of<br />

Africanity in China.<br />

Samory Pruitt<br />

Tara Mock<br />

Samory Pruitt became the University’s first Black permanent vice president for the Division<br />

of Community Affairs since the division’s inception in 2004. As vice president, Pruitt is<br />

responsible for leading efforts to improve the quality of life for those in Alabama and<br />

beyond. Pruitt has been recognized locally and nationally for his work and serves on several<br />

national boards. He was the first African American to receive the prestigious E. Roger Sayers<br />

Distinguished Service Award and was recently inducted into the Tuscaloosa County Civic<br />

Hall of Fame.<br />

Vincent Willis, an assistant professor in the New College, is the only Black professor<br />

within the college. His interest and teaching revolve around critical thinking and the<br />

need for critical thinkers in society. In 2021, Willis released a book titled “Audacious<br />

Agitation” about Black youth and “the uncompromising commitment to equal education”<br />

after the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision.<br />

Cammy Smith<br />

Vincent Willis<br />

A recent UA undergraduate alum, Cammy Smith is now pursuing her master’s degree in<br />

public health at the Capstone. After an impressive tenure as a residential advisor spanning<br />

three years, Smith has become a community director within UA Housing. As a community<br />

director over Presidential Village 1, Smith and the other community directors have worked<br />

to prioritize the mental health of residential advisors.<br />

CORRECTION: Briana Royster published an article that focuses on Black women and voting rights in Birmingham<br />

after 1920.<br />


In recent years, Black educational<br />

attainment has been much closer to the<br />

national average and today, 88% of<br />

Blacks or African Americans have a high<br />

school diploma, just shy of the national<br />

average. -United States Census Bureau

56<br />

“You have to go to<br />

school to get an<br />

education.”<br />

“If you don’t work<br />

hard in school, you’ll<br />

struggle in life.”<br />

Family<br />

Values<br />

Dani Brown<br />

“You better<br />

get all A’s.”<br />

“You have to go to<br />

school to get a job.”<br />

All my life my family have stressed the importance<br />

of “getting an education.” Like other Black<br />

families, they didn’t want their children to become<br />

a statistic.<br />

Black people do not have the best history when it comes<br />

to education. It is often a misjudgment that Black families<br />

do not set high value on education. These misjudgments<br />

stem from institutional and societal beliefs held by<br />

many of our white counterparts. False assumptions like<br />

this are aggressive, and racist. This is one type of covert<br />

racist theory that is rooted in the U.S school systems.<br />

Contrary to the belief that “Black families do not set high<br />

value on education,” my family has valued education for<br />

generations.<br />

“Education is power to the Black community,” Granny<br />

said. “They did not want us to hold power of any sort.”<br />

Education was weaponized from the beginning. The<br />

enslaved were not “allowed” to learn to read, during<br />

segregation Black schools were underfunded and<br />

“If you don’t go to<br />

school, you gone end<br />

up on the streets.”<br />

“You got a F, I’m<br />

gone beat yo ass!”<br />

“You need to<br />

go to college.”<br />

“Don’t be a dumb<br />

ass in school.”<br />

overlooked, and it took a long time for schools to become<br />

integrated. Given the history of Black people and<br />

education the importance of being Black and educated is<br />

major. The need to be educated is honestly deeply rooted<br />

in trauma and fear.<br />

“Our ancestors fought for us to be able to get an education.<br />

Changes have been made but we have to make it even<br />

better,” Granny said. “We ain’t got there yet but each<br />

generation needs to be educated college or not to make<br />

sure our ancestors blood sweat and tears does not go in<br />

vain.” She is right.<br />

Knowing the history of Black education my family has<br />

placed a high value on being educated. For a long time,<br />

I did not know why they were constantly stressing about<br />

making sure I did well in school. If I did not get honor roll<br />

there would be disappointment.<br />

“I knew you had it in you to excel, everything was too easy<br />

for you,” Mama said. “If I did not stress about doing well<br />

in school, you would have been consumed with everything<br />

but the right things.”<br />

Younger me did not understand why people were so<br />

tough on their Black children about doing well in school.<br />

I thought it was because they did not want to look bad,<br />

which could be partially true, but it looks like it is fear.<br />

The fear of reverting to the people of color not being<br />

able to make decisions for ourselves. Having things that<br />

we worked hard for ripped away from us at the hands<br />

of the opposing race filled with pure hatred. Fear of<br />

being stagnant as a Black community, suffocating in our<br />

struggles of not having proper resources. Fear of reverting<br />

to lack of proper resources. Fear of the continuance of<br />

generational curses of struggle. Fear of the unknown. The<br />

fear of being stuck in an economic downfall. My family is<br />

filled with fear, and they do not recognize it.<br />

My granny carries these fears heavily. Being born in 1951,<br />

she was raised in a time where the Black people were<br />

viewed as commodities and not as human beings. She<br />

has seen and lived through the progressively negative<br />

stigmas of education in the Black community.<br />

She enrolled in Bishop College in 1969 for half a semester.<br />

“I wanted to set myself up to have a better life for the<br />

future,” she said. Granny was not able to finish school or<br />

really get a good start in college due to having to move<br />

back home to take care of her family.<br />

I asked my granny why she felt it was so important to get<br />

a degree. “I wanted to be a good example for my family<br />

then and in the future. It did not go that way but that is<br />

why I need you to get your degree, and nothing less,” she<br />

said. “You need to make sure you have a sense of power<br />

and security better than I ever did.”<br />

College is not everything and it is not for everybody,<br />

but I feel like I had no other choice but to go to college.<br />

My parents have nagged so much about me having the<br />

opportunity to do better than them. Getting a higher<br />

education was already written out for me whether I<br />

accepted it or not. They want more for me than I can<br />

honestly want for myself.<br />

In conversation with my parents, I asked them “did I have<br />

a choice to not go to college?” They both said, “No.” It may<br />

seem harsh, but their logic is also rooted in fear. “If you<br />

have the opportunity to further your education, take it<br />

whether you really want to or not, the world is evolving,<br />

and we must evolve with it,” Mama said. “Education is a<br />

part of that evolution.”<br />

My dad has this fear of seeing his children fail. He said to<br />

me, “I didn’t give you a choice to not go to college because<br />

I don’t want you to be stuck between a rock and a hard<br />

place, wishing you had a degree attached to your name.”<br />

Recognizing the fears of my parents and my granny,<br />

I have grown to appreciate their logic of me having no<br />

choice but to get a degree. I now know there is no limit<br />

to my education. Yes, it is a struggle at times because I am<br />

faced breaking through the color divide. Attending a PWI<br />

while Black is very trying. I know I am not the only one<br />

that feels this way. We cannot give up. My family’s fears<br />

have made me want to break down the barriers placed to<br />

block us from succeeding. I will continue challenging the<br />

false assumptions placed against me and the people that<br />

look like me.<br />

College<br />

Applications<br />


Moving Beyond the Debate:<br />

Why the PWI vs HBCU Argument is No Longer Productive<br />

The ongoing debate of whether Black students<br />

should attend predominately white institutions<br />

or historically Black colleges and institutions<br />

has gone on far too long. While it’s without question<br />

that attending an HBCU can be a vital part of the Black<br />

experience, the argument in itself is just tired.<br />

HBCUs were founded because of a systemic exclusion of<br />

Black students from colleges in general and have played<br />

a very important role in Black education from the 19th<br />

century till now: But as time has progressed the need for<br />

diversity within PWIs has been critical to the development<br />

of Black education as well.<br />

Deciding which college to attend is one of the most<br />

important choices someone can make in their life. It has<br />

the potential to make or break someone’s future. More<br />

importantly, it cultivates the experience one would have<br />

while in college. Students are tasked with choosing<br />

somewhere they feel will help them develop into the<br />

person they want to be.<br />

As a Black student, it can be daunting choosing to attend<br />

a PWI. It is common to be the only Black peer in your<br />

class or organization. Having to walk down halls that<br />

Black students were barred from mere decades ago is not<br />

an easy thing to digest. We walk down streets, study in<br />

buildings, and patronize a system that was built by our<br />

enslaved ancestors. In some cases, it can cause cognitive<br />

dissonance, as attending and supporting an institution<br />

with a history of violence and hate towards the Black<br />

community.<br />

From the outside, the choice is simple: if you’re Black and<br />

socially conscious, an HBCU is the place for you. HBCUs are<br />

a place where being Black is the norm, there’s no worry of<br />

Jordan Huggins<br />

being the only Black student in your class, there’s a built-in<br />

community of Black people that doesn’t necessarily exist<br />

at PWIs. However, there are many other factors that play<br />

into it including location, family tradition and money. The<br />

cost of attendance is the number one factor that affects<br />

college decisions.<br />

Briana Jackson, a junior majoring in public relations said<br />

that her first choice was an HBCU.<br />

“Of course, I had dreams of attending an HBCU, but UA was<br />

the smartest decision,” Jackson said. With the scholarships<br />

the University provided her, Jackson will graduate with as<br />

little to no debt.<br />

At its foundation, the debate asserts that choosing a<br />

PWI is a departure from the Black community. However,<br />

Black community can be found on any campus. At an<br />

HBCU, it’s automatic, but one must seek it out at a PWI.<br />

Nevertheless, it’s there. It can be found through Black<br />

Student Unions, Divine 9 Greek Organizations and other<br />

Black organizations that are geared toward Black students.<br />

There are pros and cons to attending an HBCU or PWI. It<br />

is up to the individual to decide which place can provide<br />

the best circumstances for their future. The debate only<br />

further divides the Black community. A Black person<br />

seeking education should be celebrated, no matter where<br />

they choose to attend. By focusing on a more productive<br />

conversations such as finding ways to address systemic<br />

issues that prevent Black students form even accessing<br />

higher education rather than focusing on where they go.<br />

The community will only grow stronger as we set aside<br />

these trivial discourses and uplift one another.<br />

Is College<br />

Worth It?<br />

Kristen Taylor<br />

In an era where higher education is<br />

often glorified as the only pathway<br />

to success and opportunity, a<br />

pressing question arises for many<br />

aspiring students: Is college worth it?<br />

College can be an exciting time in a<br />

person’s life. It is a period where they<br />

can follow their passions and acquire<br />

knowledge and skills to navigate the<br />

challenges of adulthood. However,<br />

deciding to pursue higher education<br />

can be daunting. With rising tuition<br />

costs and the uncertainty of postgraduate<br />

job opportunities, due in part<br />

to increasing degree requirements<br />

and experience levels for entry-level<br />

positions, it is natural to wonder if<br />

college holds the same value and merit<br />

within the community.<br />

The question of whether college<br />

is worth it for Black students is a<br />

complex and multifaceted one. On<br />

the one hand, higher education can<br />

open doors for further professional<br />

and educational development, lead to<br />

higher-earning job opportunities and<br />

contribute to personal growth. On the<br />

other hand, it often comes with a hefty<br />

price tag and potential debt.<br />

In an interview Neil deGrasse Tyson,<br />

American astrophysicist and writer,<br />

said college isn’t about applying what<br />

you learn but knowing how to handle<br />

and confront problems you have never<br />

seen before.<br />

to think, you go to college to learn<br />

how to do research,” Tyson said. “Then<br />

you come out a thinker and lifelong<br />

learner.”<br />

College is about more than just earning<br />

your degree. College provides a unique<br />

networking environment, often<br />

offering many resources, allowing<br />

personal growth and self-discovery.<br />

Regardless, it is important to<br />

acknowledge that Black students still<br />

face the harsh reality of how systemic<br />

racism can deter that growth.<br />

According to a United States<br />

Joint Economic Committee 2020<br />

report, “College-educated Black<br />

workers are also at a higher risk<br />

than their White counterparts of<br />

being underemployed—working in<br />

occupations that do not make use of<br />

their education and consequently pay<br />

less.”<br />

This disparity in employment<br />

opportunities can make the economic<br />

benefits of a college degree unclear for<br />

Black students.<br />

If college-educated Black workers are<br />

already getting paid less than their<br />

white counterparts, is the degree<br />

worth the cost?<br />

Especially when the cost of college<br />

education has been steadily rising.<br />

According to the Education Data<br />

Initiative, “Postsecondary institutions<br />

raise tuition (and fees) an average 6.8%<br />

each year.”<br />

These high tuition and fees often<br />

result in a considerable amount of<br />

student loan debt for many students,<br />

which can hinder financial stability<br />

even after graduation.<br />

58<br />

“You don’t go to college to learn a<br />

subject; you go to college to learn how<br />

Not to mention, the racial disparities<br />


It’s Never Too Late to Find<br />

Your Community: The<br />

Importance of Campus<br />

Involvement<br />

Jermaine Ball<br />

For many, feelings of isolation and homesickness<br />

are one of the most daunting things students<br />

face in college. No matter if they’re in-state or<br />

out-of-state students, college is a new chapter in their<br />

lives that comes with new feelings of uncertainty,<br />

doubt and sometimes outright fear.<br />

One of the best ways to combat these feelings though<br />

is to get yourself involved on campus. While this can be<br />

intimidating to put yourself out there, it’s one of the<br />

best ways to alleviate those feelings of isolation while<br />

you’re at the University of Alabama.<br />

Whether you are looking to become an active member<br />

in a student organization, volunteer or otherwise, the<br />

University has plenty of opportunities for students<br />

who share similar interests, or who may be going<br />

through the same things that you are.<br />

“There’s no one way to be a UA student,” said Rosalind<br />

Moore-Miller, the assistant vice president for student<br />

engagement. “That way is multifaceted and unique to<br />

every student, and we have to recognize that, not try<br />

to chart the path that we see someone else charting.”<br />

Miller also encourages students of color specifically<br />

to actively seek out spaces in which they will feel<br />

comfortable, and to create those spaces if they don’t<br />

already exist. At a school where, according to UA’s<br />

Office of Institutional Research and Assessment,<br />

only about 11% of the student population is Black, it’s<br />

important that Black students find those spaces that<br />

feel familiar and safe to them.<br />

“I would just encourage students to think about that<br />

early, and often find ways to see themselves represented<br />

in the opportunities, activities and spaces that they’re<br />

in and if they don’t see that, create it,” Miller said.<br />

There is one primary entity on campus that is dedicated<br />

to helping students chart their own paths and that’s<br />

The Source. The Source is the provider of resources,<br />

support and recognition for student organizations at<br />

the University. According to the Source’s website, they<br />

oversee over 600 student organizations. They host<br />

Get on Board Day at the beginning of each new school<br />

year where they feature all student organizations in an<br />

effort to expose students to all the opportunities that<br />

are available for them to get involved.<br />

Even with all the involvement opportunities at<br />

students’ disposal, there could be many reasons why<br />

they still don’t feel motivated to get involved on<br />

campus.<br />

“Every semester I went through something drastic,” said<br />

Ursula Lindsey, a senior majoring in human environmental<br />

sciences.<br />

Lindsey was dealing with a litany of personal issues in her<br />

first couple years of college. However, she did not let life<br />

deter her from achieving her goals.<br />

As she prepares for graduation later in December, she<br />

recalled an encouraging conversation she had with one<br />

of her favorite professors during the second semester of<br />

her junior year.<br />

“Last semester I had a great professor, Sarah Berger, and<br />

she was talking about professional development and how<br />

you should get involved in school,” Lindsey said. “I was<br />

like, I’m a senior now and I was thinking it’s too late, it’s<br />

over for me, but she really helped push me through.”<br />

Camryn Smith, a first-year graduate student in public<br />

health, agreed that students shouldn’t allow themselves<br />

to think their time to get involved has passed.<br />

“Get rid of the lock that a timeline has on you,” Smith<br />

said. “That’s what I would say to a freshman every time<br />

and talk to people.”<br />

This is a sentiment shared among many students and<br />

it helps that every year there are new organizations<br />

being formed, which means there are always new ways<br />

for students, more specifically students of color, to get<br />

involved.<br />

“I think that it’s very important for people to get involved<br />

on campus, especially people of color,” said Samiya Jones,<br />

a sophomore majoring in marketing. “I think UA does<br />

a really good job of having things every day for people<br />

to get involved, like the Alabama Pearls. That’s a new<br />

organization.”<br />

The Alabama Pearls launched this year and is a professional<br />

development organization within the College of<br />

Communication and Information Sciences aimed towards<br />

young Black women to provide resources to be successful<br />

in professional environments.<br />

Students owe it to themselves to make the most out of<br />

the time they have here. These years will go by faster<br />

than you think, and the last thing anyone wants is to be<br />

a day removed from walking across the graduation stage<br />

and then suddenly realizing that they haven’t taken full<br />

advantage of their time in college.<br />

60 61

A Conversation on<br />

Critical Race Theory<br />

Dani Brown<br />

The conversation surrounding critical race theory<br />

in America has become abusive. The conversation<br />

has become a debate with state legislatures about<br />

whether to ban the teaching of critical race theory in<br />

classrooms, particularly in elementary school.<br />

Kimberlé W. Crenshaw, a professor at the UCLA School<br />

of Law and Columbia Law School who is also well known<br />

for her role in coining the term “critical race theory,” in a<br />

interview with The New York Times in 2021.<br />

“It is a way of seeing, attending to, accounting for, tracing<br />

and analyzing the ways that race is produced,” she said.<br />

“The ways that racial inequality is facilitated, and the<br />

ways that our history has created these inequalities that<br />

now can be almost effortlessly reproduced unless we<br />

attend to the existence of these inequalities.”<br />

To better understand it, critical race theory explores<br />

the intersectionality of racial, social, and economical<br />

construction ingrained in society. Many people in power<br />

have befuddled the importance that Black history holds<br />

in America to escape the<br />

acknowledgment of the themes that led directly to critical<br />

race theory, which is ignorant.<br />

In September 2020, former President Donald Trump<br />

issued an executive order to ban the practice or guidance<br />

of critical race theory. This decision caused the color line<br />

to become bolder. Knowing the general idea of Trump<br />

and “Make America Great Again” this should not be<br />

surprising in any way. The order to ban critical race theory<br />

is completely violent to America in general. Themes and<br />

ideologies like MAGA are what causes the social construct<br />

of racism to become even more disrespectful. The current<br />

governor of Florida Ron DeSantis made the statement<br />

“Black people benefit from slavery.” Ignorant comments<br />

like this are why critical race theory exists.<br />

America would not be as advanced as it is without the<br />

Black experience. America was built off the blood, sweat,<br />

tears and trauma of the enslaved. Historical truth like<br />

this should be acknowledged instead of disregarded.<br />

When it comes to the relation of critical race theory and<br />

the teaching of Black history, there is a misconception<br />

that critical race theory is already being taught; which is<br />

evidently not the case.<br />

It has been stated by certain government officials that<br />

critical race theory introduces adolescent minds to a<br />

leftist “brainwashing.” Adolescent minds are innocent,<br />

but behavior is learned just like racism is learned. What is<br />

ultimately being misconstrued is the fact that education<br />

in schools is the only thing adolescents are learning. A<br />

child can be led to have a leftist mindset just by following<br />

the customs of their home lives. Some do not want more<br />

people fighting against a socially unequal society, and<br />

they do not want people to know the past so they can keep<br />

allowing it to be repeated. Young minds are the future,<br />

and they are attempting to control them before “it’s too<br />

late.”<br />

Latrina Spencer, a kindergarten teacher at Oakdale<br />

Elementary school in Tuscaloosa, said that when it<br />

comes to understanding critical race theory “the lines<br />

get blurred.” The misunderstanding of critical race<br />

theory can be detrimental when it comes to education,<br />

which makes it harder for critical race theory to exist in<br />

its correct meaning. Spencer teaches her children the<br />

appropriate versions of truthful facts regarding Black<br />

history.<br />

“It’s not what we teach it’s how we teach it; it’s how we<br />

present it,” Spencer said.<br />

Learning about Black history does not have to be<br />

negative. Finding ways to appropriately tell the<br />

facts about Black history to adolescents is a form of<br />

preservation. It is important for students, especially<br />

Black students, to know about their history to avoid<br />

repeating it. Conversely, many white parents may not<br />

want their children or grandchildren to learn about<br />

history that seems to villainize white people. “White<br />

people do not want to see themselves on the wrong side<br />

of history,” Spencer said.<br />

The white race being portrayed as the villain is almost<br />

always exhibited in majority of Black historical truth.<br />

White people don’t want to continue to have their<br />

oppressive and racist tactics shown in their children’s<br />

school books or taught from their children’s teachers.<br />

Black history in our schools has been suppressed in<br />

order to continue to control the narrative of the divided<br />

culture within society. The majority wants to be assured<br />

that the minority stays a minority. Every part of Black<br />

history needs to be taught and acknowledged.<br />

In higher education, specifically universities, there are<br />

curriculums set in place that focus on exploring the<br />

racial, social, and economic disparities that perfectly<br />

align with the critical race theory, like African American<br />

studies. The threat of banning critical race theory<br />

leaves the African American studies programs in a grey<br />

area. This could be a threat to students studying in<br />

programs of race and gender studies’ academic freedom.<br />

Constricting students’ academic freedom is almost<br />

equivalent to constricting the intellect of the enslaved<br />

during the long time of slavery, which DeSantis and<br />

Trump agree state legislatures are mimicking.<br />

When it comes to critical race theory, it is important<br />

to understand why it is important from all standpoints.<br />

Some state legislatures want to ban the teachings<br />

of American history and silence discussions about<br />

the systematic discourse, in support of reversing<br />

racial justices. According to the National Education<br />

Association the North Dakota House Bill 1508 is now a<br />

set law that prohibits “instruction relating to critical<br />

race theory.” This law focuses on a theory that racism is<br />

learned as it is embedded in the American legal system.<br />

Moreover, legislatures are beginning to use terms like<br />

“divisive concepts” in the discussion around critical race<br />

theory to affirm the idea that it is not something that<br />

should be discussed in academic settings.<br />

62<br />


According to the Education Data Initiative on Aug. 20, America’s total student loan<br />

debt was $1.76 trillion. Among that debt, approximately 86% of Black students took<br />

out student loans versus 68% percent of white students, according to the Legal Defense<br />

Fund.<br />

Throughout American history, structural racism has given rise to the racial wealth gap,<br />

which has had significant implications for Black students in K-12 education and beyond.<br />

The disparities in wealth among Black and white households has been instrumental in<br />

shaping the educational experiences of Black students and thereafter.<br />

According to the Legal Defense Fund, due to the lack of resources and underfunded<br />

schools within Black and brown communities, “students of color are forced to take on<br />

more debt to cover tuition and living expenses to make up for the wealth gap between<br />

them and their white peers.”<br />

Autumn Williams, a recent UA alum, said she had to take out student loans because coming<br />

from a single-income family taking out loans was her only option to get through<br />

college. “Well, my mother told me that it was in my best interest to take out student loans<br />

because we didn’t have enough money,” Williams said. With the racial wealth gap, studies<br />

have shown that wealth among Black families is 15% less than that of white households,<br />

according to the Federal Reserve’s 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances.<br />

Isabella Cornelius, a junior majoring in news media, said that she was lucky enough not to<br />

have to take out any student loans; however, she recognized that being white and having<br />

several resources growing up was a reason why she never had to take out any loans. Cornelius<br />

said she was lucky she had circumstances where she was able to have a decent ACT<br />

score and academic resources to the point that she could qualify for scholarships that<br />

would pay her way through school.<br />

A study published by “Addictive Behaviors” journal connected high student loan debt to<br />

mental health problems and even unhealthy drinking habits, highlighting that those with<br />

socioeconomic instability after acquiring the student loan debt saw greater mental health<br />

problems and drinking problems. “I’m very stressed and concerned about how I’m going to<br />

pay off my debt, especially going into this workforce,” Williams said.<br />

When asked if her race was a defining factor in her lack of student loan debt, Cornelius<br />

agreed with no hesitation. “Definitely. You know, I wasn’t rich, but I had a school that was<br />

decently funded that had a good ACT study program, and a lot of those sorts of opportunities<br />

start way earlier than we think,” Cornelius said. “Having those opportunities in<br />

high school, in middle school can really have a ripple effect down the road.”<br />

Cornelius recognized that even though she didn’t come from a super well-off family, money<br />

wasn’t the only resource that gave her a good education; it was also based on demographics<br />

and where she grew up. “I’m sure my race played a part in getting the scholarship,<br />

and you know that there would be more challenges for me otherwise,” Cornelius said.<br />

In an interview with CNBC, sociologist Charles Eaton described student loans as a “debt<br />

trap for Black borrowers.” According to CNBC, with the recent and ongoing talks of student<br />

loan forgiveness, “Forgiving student debt can have an impact on the racial wealth<br />

gap.” CNBC said with immediate student loan forgiveness, the racial wealth gap for Black<br />

borrowers’ wealth to well over 30%.<br />

When deciding on whether to get a loan or not, Williams said to weigh all your options.<br />

“Talk to every member in your family, make sure that this is the right decision for you<br />

moving forward in your life, understand how it could set you back financially after college,”<br />

Williams said.<br />

64<br />


Autographs<br />

Autographs<br />


Autographs<br />

Autographs<br />




@1956MAGAZINE<br />

1956 MAGAZINE<br />


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