COURTESY SAMARA JINKS
COURTESY SAMARA JINKS

The month of February holds a special significance on the calendar as Black History Month. It’s a time to reflect on the state of the past and present, but just as importantly, to celebrate the incredible cultural, social and political vibrancy that the black community has created and continues to. On Georgetown’s campus the Black Student Alliance, or BSA, leads much of the celebration of Black History Month. The Guide sat down with Samara Jinks (SFS ’11) this week, board member of BSA this week, to discuss the tangibility of Black History Month and all of BSA’s activities here on campus.

What types of events will BSA be holding for Black History Month?

We will be holding a lot of events for Georgetown students and a few in conjunction with other universities in Washington. We have everything from a potluck at the end of the month to speed “Jeopardy!” with What’s After Dark. We’re excited to be making a trip this Saturday, the 12th, down to the National Geographic Museum from 1–3 p.m. to see the exhibit “America I Am.” The imprint of African Americans on American history is portrayed pretty powerfully in this travelling exhibit, from what I hear. On the 23rd of the month there will be a “Blackademics” panel from 7–9 p.m., in which professors will talk about the life experiences that led them to academia. My pet project for the month is to set up a time on either the 15th or 17th where BSA will be hosting a panel discussing the Tea Party movement in regard to race relations. I’d like to explore in this event whether such a movement would have grabbed such successes, had it been black.

That’s a pretty striking statement. How do you see the Tea Party relating to black movements in the United States?

Well, the Tea Party has very strong anti-government and somewhat militant tendencies, and I think it would be fascinating to draw a comparison between that movement today and say, the Black Panther movement of the 1960s. How would it have been different if it had been a Black movement? Would it have put as many members into Congress? We could never say for sure, but I’d love to explore whether the exclusion of the Black Panthers would have repeated itself. The racial dynamics of this new movement is a riveting topic for me personally. I’d like this event to open up a discourse on the racial issues present in rebellious groups, or rather how that plays a role in their societal reception.

On the topic of racial issues, I was wondering if, in light of Black History Month, there were any comments you had on the ways that Georgetown approaches issues of race?

I think Georgetown is not the most diverse population of students — and most would agree with me. There is no malevolency to the racial discourse on this campus, but it is much easier here, I believe, to avoid confronting diversity than [at] many other universities. It’s easy for students at Georgetown to become comfortable and self-select into a group of people with shared or similar backgrounds. Unfortunately, I don’t see the effort to spearhead diversity trickling down from the administration, either. One of BSA’s difficulties in reaching out to all students stems from the fact that we are the Black Student Alliance, and people make up their mind about the group very quickly. I’d like to see new, innovative programming to fix this.

Do you have any specific programming in mind? Or alternately, do you see any ways in which Georgetown could improve its racial dialogue?

One of my efforts on BSA’s board has been to increase the amount of innovative programming open to everyone regardless of race. Certain events are bound to be specific to the black community, but I think many events, such as our movie screenings or academic panels, are definitely fun and extremely beneficial for anyone to come out to. People need to be brought together in a way that’s comfortable, but also challenges their preconceived notions on this campus. By approaching the situation with new events, something innovative that everyone likes, it could spark some change. So many things supersede race on this campus, like our love for basketball that could be employed to increase the overlap.

Are there any final thoughts you have on Black History Month for us?

I’d just like to say that black culture is American culture. It’s so intrinsically linked to U.S. history and culture, forming this exciting, diverse tradition that can only enrich all of us.

 

— Interview by Kevin Hardy

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