On Being Black: BSU's Narrative
BY BLACK STUDENT UNION MEMBERS
A racial group. An ethnic minority. Black is a broad, vague term defining people with nothing in common beyond skin color. In honor of Black History Month, AB’s Black Student Union members define blackness in the context of their own lives. Their reflections reveal the complexity of the Black identity, even within our shared understanding of it. The variety of people, opinions, and histories within the Black community at AB emphasizes the true definition of Blackness: a community that transcends ethnicity, religion, and way of life, creating an identity out of a common struggle.
For me, being Black isn’t limited to the confines of America: it extends to my cultural Caribbean and religious roots. I’ve grown up in a family of immigrants, and I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing enough of two distinct worlds to be connected to both. My mom, who is Antiguan, has passed down various recipes and dialects that I couldn’t imagine my life without, and my dad, who is Guyanese, has shown me the large network of connections
in the religious Caribbean world, and, of course, more delicious recipes. So when I see how they entwine these cultures in their everyday lives in America, I take those aspects and include them in my experience as a born-and-raised Black girl in the US. To me, being African-American is something that I take pride in because of those culturally unique parts to us. We have contributed to songs, dances, and beauty in this country that have made me reflect on and appreciate my identity more every year. I’m glad to be a part of all of these creative puzzle pieces that make me who I am.
—Kéra Matthews ’24
There was a time in my life when my ethnicity, place of residence, gender, etc., were the only identity groups I belonged to. Black was a label that this country thrust upon me, like it does many others. Becoming Black, though, was very easy. When you walk hallways and streets devoid of people who look like you, a familiar face brings a smile. When in a room full of people who cannot understand your perspective, a nod of acknowledgment reminds you that your experiences are valid. Being Black is gravitating toward one another because no one does community like us. Black is that feeling of pride and joy I get when we succeed. Black is speaking different languages and practicing different faiths but bonding in the knowledge that the world sees you the same. Black is ironic because we find community,
strength and inspiration from the same label designed to demean us. Black is having pride in our shared history, culture, and inexplicably amazing ability to find joy in crushing despair. Black is bold: breaking boundary after boundary even as they continue to go up. My Blackness is something I’m proud that I’m grateful for because, if nothing else, I’ll always have a community.
—Mayenli Comfort-Maryam ’23
Being Black wasn’t always something I realized I was. Growing up in an African country, I looked just like everyone else, so there was no need for labels, so when first arrived in this America, it was surprising to have Black be the part of me that people saw first. It was hard at first to accept this new part of my identity because it put me in a different category from everyone I knew. But over time, I learned to accept and appreciate this new part of my identity. Being Black wasn’t something I asked to be but something I will always be grateful I am, it allows me to be part of a community that understands my experiences and supports me. Being Black is walking around in a world that is blind to you and finding light in others
—Debie Bih ’26