Sociology sophomore and singer Brittany Roberts performs at the Living in our Skin event held by the Black Student Union, Oct. 14. (Bridget Reilly)
Sociology sophomore and singer Brittany Roberts performs at the Living in our Skin event held by the Black Student Union, Oct. 14.

Bridget Reilly

Living in Our Skin kicks off 21-day Racial Equity Challenge

October 15, 2020

Wednesday, Oct. 14, the Black Student Union held a racial awareness event called “Living in Our Skin”. The official statement released by the Black Student Union about the event says that it is their “official Call to Action following the events that have erupted across the nation and world regarding Black Lives.”

Jamilah Kangudja, President of the BSU, said one of the main goals was to create discussions between students to deepen their knowledge on racial injustice and hear all sides.

“It allows us to know who we are and experience new things,” Kangudja said. “Learning to be uncomfortable with other people’s differences, some things you can agree to disagree on.”

According to Kangudja, these discussions are important to draw awareness of racial issues in our world.

t-shirt stand
Black Student Union officers working the Living in Our Skin event, Oct. 14. (Niko McWilliams)

“If you’re comfortable, that’s bad,” Kangudja said. “You should get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

Inside the Clark Student Center were tables to help educate students and bring awareness to police brutality, voting, intersectionality and anti-racism. The hope was to create a safe space to learn about or embrace being a student or person of color.

The BSU’s statement addressing the event said, “While we recognize the intersectionality of being Black–we also recognize that we should be educated on what it means to be anti-racist.”

To do this, faculty, staff and students are invited to participate in the 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge, led by Cammie Dean, Director of Mosaic Cross-Cultural Center. Dean explained that for 21 days, those who signed up for the challenge will be given challenges to learn something, do something or find a new way to connect.

“The idea is to take one item a day that helps them be more knowledgeable and more prepared to take action where racial equity is concerned,” Dean said.

While MSU Texas has not done a challenge like this before, Dean has implemented a similar challenge at her previous institution. She is hopeful the results at MSU from the 21-day challenge are similar to what she’s seen before.

“Over time, people became more comfortable discussing issues [at the previous institution],” Dean said.

student speaking
Jamilah Kangudja, Black Student Union president and graduate student, speaks at the Living in Our Skin event. (Niko McWilliams)

Most students come from the same background, Dean explained, and their first interaction with others from different backgrounds is in college. This means that they don’t typically have the vocabulary or communication skills to accurately express what their views may be. The goal of the 21-Day Challenge is to provide them with the knowledge and skills necessary to contribute to discussions. 

“They may be committed to the idea of equity or believe that inclusion matters, but having the skills is a different thing,” Dean said. 

Dean also commented that taking the time to be comfortable having these discussions will help change the future.

“You guys are going to go out into the world and hire people, fire people and make decisions about policies in whatever organization or whatever career you’re in,” Dean said. “If you can do that effectively, no matter who you’re working with, then we’re one step closer as a society to racial equity.” 

You can sign up for the 21 Day Challenge through a form on Mustangs Link or through the Postmasters sent out on Oct. 13.

Roberts sings
Brittany Roberts, singer and sophomore sociology major, sings at the Living in Our Skin event. (Niko McWilliams)

Out in the Plaza was free food and snow cones accompanied by live performances by students of color.

“I decided to come because I care about Black Lives Matter and wanted to see what MSU was doing to promote diversity and inclusion,” Adrienne Hill, sociology senior, said.

Symia Shelton, education freshman, said she felt there is more activism, activities and clubs at MSU than were available to her in high school. She believed the event helps students to connect.

“It helps us realize we aren’t alone,” Shelton said. “We’re all feeling the same things, and we all need to come together and help each other figure it out.”

Amanin Augustine, nursing freshman, said she came out because it was important to her to see awareness being spread on campus.

“It’s not enough to just be not racist,” Augustine said. “There should also be anti-racists. It’s not enough to just say we matter; mattering is the bare minimum.”

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