A petition to reinstate the African American Cultural Center at Old Dominion University

So another student in my Women’s Studies classes who I also consider a friend has decided to take up a cause to reinstate the African American Cultural Center at Old Dominion University where we go to school.

Morgan is working with a group called Generation Forward, whose mission statement says : “Generation Forward is part of the nationwide movement to re-assert the value of Black lives, to create real, lasting change in the community.


So Generation Forward has begun a grassroots campaign to have a Black Student Union reinstated on Old Dominion University Campus.  There used to be a safe space for the African American students to meet on campus, but it was closed in 2008 due to expansion of residential housing.  There are other safe spaces available for other marginalized groups to meet, such as the Women’s Center, GLBT Housing, a space for Chinese students, Filipino students among others.  However, there is no space set aside for black students. Here is the executive summary:

Black Student Union at Old Dominion University Executive Summary

In 2008, the Hugo A. Owens African American Cultural Center was closed, due to residential area expansion, after serving the campus community for seventeen years. A haven to all who had the opportunity to experience it, the center was a prized jewel to the campus community. In its absence, the university has significantly decreased institutional funding toward Black programming and cultural awareness. There is no longer a central safe space for Black students to commune while accommodations for other marginalized groups have been made (i.e. the Women’s Center, the Safe Space Committee, Lavender House — a living arrangement for LGBT students, the Confucius Institute to promote understanding between US citizens and Chinese culture, and the Filipino American Center). Currently, the Black community makes up 46% of on campus students and 22% of the student body as a whole. With such a large amount, making our university the most diverse in the state, it is also time to make it the most inclusive in the state and reinstate the African American Cultural Center as a Black Student Union. Black students bring in an excess of $3,000,000 in student activities fees each year, but are invested in at a rate close to $6 per student, per year, in cultural programming from student organizations alone. From alumni and faculty who remember Owens House, to the students who’ve never gotten a chance to experience such a space, it is important that we make this opportunity available for prospective students in the future.

So what does a Black Student Union at Old Dominion look like? Ideally, this building will house one large event space, multiple meeting spaces, organizational offices for Black student organizations, and an administrative office for a director and two assistant directors devoted to academic success, institutional equity, community outreach, and cultural awareness and programming. While this space will function as safe space for Black students and anyone else interested in enhancing their cultural awareness, we also have a unique opportunity to bridge the gap between Old Dominion and the campus community. The Union’s interior is only a starting point, where historical images pertaining to Blacks in Hampton Roads will be showcased. From there, mentoring programs, college student to youth and professional to college student, will be established with the community at large.

The Union will serve as a space that promotes and maximizes academic excellence, community outreach, recruitment and retention of Black students, and supportive programming centered around Black culture and the African Diaspora. It will also provide a wide range of support and resources that include opportunities for leadership development, mentoring services, graduate school workshops, career services, informal counseling and advisement, networking opportunities, internships, and more. While all of these services are valuable, the most important goal of the Union is to foster critical concern for, and understanding of, Black and African Diasporic history, arts, politics, and culture.

The Union serves as a vehicle to promote cultural and racial understanding, build community, and foster appreciation for Black culture. It is imperative that this facility return to Old Dominion University so that we can all call ourselves members of not only the most diverse campus in Virginia, but also, the most inclusive.

I think the mission of her group has merit, and a Black Student Union on campus is needed.  Please take a moment to sign her petition. 

All cultures are valid, all cultures are important.  We need to ensure that we are not attending to some cultures needs and not others, particularly when the culture in question is almost 1/2 of the student body.  Please support Morgan, Generation Forward, and all of the black students at ODU, and sign the petition!

Thank you all!!!


The “Welfare Queen”….a myth about black women

Over the years I have commonly heard people (particularly white people)  talk about how black people abuse the welfare system and don’t  want to work, but just want to stay home and collect welfare.  Oftentimes they talk about the young black mother who has lots of kids from different fathers and keep having babies so they don’t have to work and can just collect the welfare and food stamp money.  Many times these same people will talk about how immigrants are taking jobs away from americans (I guess from white americans). Not sure about that one.  So I started thinking, when exactly did this myth get started?  I did some research and found out that Ronald Reagan first talked about a women who was abusing welfare who lived in the South Side of Chicago. To be fair, he did not coin the term “welfare queen”. While the story about the woman in Chicago was not altogether untrue, although, with her story, Reagan marked millions of America’s poorest people as potential scoundrels and fostered the belief that welfare fraud was a nationwide epidemic that needed to be stamped out. This image of grand and rampant welfare fraud allowed Reagan to sell voters on his cuts to public assistance spending. The “welfare queen” became a convenient villain, a woman everyone could hate. She was a lazy black con artist, unashamed of cadging the money that honest folks worked so hard to earn.

That term and that idea of black laziness has been perpetuated since then, and sticks with us today.  The statistics speak volumes.  There are 38% of welfare recipients are white and 39% are black, however, when you compare that with the fact that 77% of this country is white and only 13% are black, that changes the picture.  While it is true that 1% more of the welfare recipients are black, there are so many fewer of them, it speaks volumes about oppression and white privilege.

Patricia Arquette  became a hot topic recently because she addressed wage inequality during her Oscar speech.  I won’t even go into the 99% of the things that were wrong with her speech and focus only on the 1% that was right- there is a wage gap between men and women.  But let’s look deeper into this wage inequity.

I found this excellent picture on the American Association of University Women website.

wage gapI especially love that they compared within race percentages as well as against white men.  White men earn the most of anyone in this country, and are the most privileged group of people in our society.

So when you look at the fact that black women earn 91% of what black men earn and only 64% of what white men earn is it any wonder that there is 1% more black Americans on public assistance than white women?? I do wish there was one more column, which looked at race and women. In other words it would have been great to see how the racial divide stacks up when comparing just women.  How much does a black woman, native american woman, hispanic woman etc. earn when compared to a white woman.  Because although white men have the most privilege, white women are number two on the totem pole of hierarchy in this country.

So is there really any truth to black people, especially women abusing the welfare system?  Or is the problem with the system, in that black women make so much less money, that they  have to rely on government assistance to make ends meet?


Nuff said??