This past month has been rich in learning.
Through a variety of events, conversations and resources, Taylor has been welcomed into the depth of history, culture and beauty surrounding the Black community.
And now, as February draws to a close, the temptation is to let the celebrations surrounding Black History Month fade into the background as we move onto the “next thing.”
But what would it look like if, this year, instead of leaving, we stayed? What would it look like if we pushed past the month of February, set aside for the celebration of Black culture, and chose to celebrate our Black brothers and sisters year-round? What would happen if we kept showing up to the events, the conversations and the spaces of learning?
This sustained involvement is not unreasonable. The resources, conversations and events we decide to engage with in February are offered throughout the school year to the Taylor community.
The Black Student Union (BSU) is just one club on campus that consistently extends an invitation for Taylor students to participate in the celebration of Black culture. This school year, BSU hosted a Block Party and a Black Table Talk — both of which were open to the broader community.
Sophomore Goodness Korrie, the current president of BSU, recognizes the importance of celebrating one another.
“As a body of Christ, we have different functions that when put together create a beautiful picture painted by God,” Korrie said. “BSU is an organization that aims to celebrate minority students; although the title of the club connotes the emphasis on African Americans, the club is for all who want to learn and give back to the community.”
The Rev. Greg Dyson, vice president for the office of intercultural leadership and church relations (ILCR), encourages the Taylor community to take advantage of the opportunities extended to them through events hosted by BSU and other campus organizations.
“I know that our majority community feels like they don’t want to encroach on something inappropriately,” Dyson said. “But I would say they should be willing to be uncomfortable and just go — because I think that there’s an encouragement it creates for the minority community (on campus).”
Beyond planned events, however, there are myriad ways to learn about and interact with Black culture year-round.
Sickler Hall, home to the ILCR office, keeps a bookshelf stocked with 54 titles in hopes that students and faculty will stop by to claim a few. The books in the Sickler library are not meant to be returned, but to be read, kept and shared as a resource that will benefit others.
As members of the Taylor community continue to celebrate and learn from the Black community, Dyson recommends the following titles: Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” David Anderson’s “Gracism: The Art of Inclusion” and Trillia Newbell’s “United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity,” along with heavier reads such as Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow,” Esau McCaulley’s “Reading While Black” and Charles Ware’s “One Race One Blood.” Each of these titles can be found on the top floor of Sickler.
In light of these events and resources offered year-round, what is keeping us from engaging with Black culture beyond Feb. 28?
Maybe it’s the uncertainty of going to a BSU event without the rest of your wing or floor.
Maybe it’s the inconvenience of finding a book and committing to reading through it.
Maybe it’s simply a lack of interest.
But the reality remains that past February, Black accomplishments are still worthy of acknowledgment, Black struggles are still worthy of recognition, and the Black community is still worthy of celebration.
Taylor University, how will we love our Black brothers and sisters beyond this month?
Let’s continue to listen. Let’s continue to learn. Let’s continue to celebrate.