Ujamaa At Cornell University

Cornell Daily Sun article.  The comments are a good read, as well.  More recent Cornell Daily Sun article.  My response to the latter (I'm not sure if they'll approve it):
"Thus, can we consider these programs successful if black students have been cut off from those whom they have been brought to educate?"

Oh, so that's why we got into Cornell.  To educate white students about Black culture.  Great, well I guess I failed at that task, so sorry guys, I'll just spend the rest of my life making it up to all of the other white people I come in contact with.  Do you see how ridiculous it is that even diversity is seen through the lens of how it benefits white people?  Try to look outside of yourselves and your lives for a second, and wonder if Black kids go to Cornell to educate you, or to make sure that we don't have to serve you like our parents serve your parents?  Or better yet, actually go to Ujamaa (because somehow these discussions always tend to solely target the "Black dorm", I know, we're the scariest minority) and talk to your fellow students, participate in their events, concerts, dances, banquets.  Contrary to popular belief, you are welcome as long as you don't act like you're on a safari adventure.  You might find that you end up educating yourselves.  It would make our job a whole lot easier.
 Yeah, I was pissed, mainly from that line that I quoted at the beginning, and in the rare moments that I act on my anger, you get sarcastic bitchy Denise.   I kind of like her.  She should come out and play more often.  Anyway, I lived in Uj for two years while I was at Cornell, and the second article is a classic example of the same argument heard over and over again when programs houses are debated at Cornell (and as I mentioned, the complaint always seems to be specifically about Ujamaa).  The white students say, "But we want to learn more about you!  You should live with us and teach us about your food and cultures!  I came here because I though Cornell was more diverse, and my group of friends doesn't look like a Benetton ad because of you mean Black people.  You're self-segregating, and that's racist!"

I wish they would ask themselves, "Did I care about self-segregation when nobody would talk to the only Black girl in my science class?  Or when my fraternity/sorority accepted no non-white members?  Why is it that I assume that they all have the same culture, maybe the people in Uj represent 10 (at least) different countries and cultures?  Why do they have to come to me, why can't I go to them?  I wouldn't be comfortable living in Ujamaa, so why do I assume they should be comfortable living on West Campus?  Why is it that I only care about self-segregation when Black people find a place that allows them to finally stop caring about what white people think about them?"

Also, I'd like to know where in the Hell did people get the idea that Cornell is diverse?  Let's see...According to the stats, out of an undergraduate population of 13,846, 5% of the population is Black (that's 692 Black people.  Remember this, there will be a test later), 6% is Latino,17% Asian, and just to shame the descendants of the pilgrims, .5% Native American (69 people).  So, it's diverse, in the way that many colleges are diverse nowadays.  There are a lot of Asian students.  And I must note, they don't have a living center (yet), but they do still tend to only hang out with people from their respective countries, and no one complains about that.  Really, if there were as many Black students at Cornell as there were Asian students, there might not be a need for Ujamaa.  But then again, maybe so, because much like with the Black students, the Asian students represent many different countries, and perhaps having their space will unite their group the way Ujamaa has united different countries of the African diaspora for almost 40 years.  Also, most of the best events on campus have come out of us "self-segregators", so I'd be excited to see what could come out of an Asian Living Center.

Oh, and Ujamaa holds 144 residents.  Do you remember how many Black students there are at Cornell.  If you do, divide 144 by that number.  So, about 21% of the Black students at Cornell live there (when it's full).  A good amount, but opponents to Ujamaa tend to act as though all but a few straggling Black students have been sucked into Uj, and they're holding onto the good ones for dear life.  A high majority of them are freely available to teach our white students all they know about "Black" culture (because the idea of Haitians, Jamaicans, Nigerians, Ghanians, Bahamians, etc. being different cultures might blow some minds).

I think that  "self-segregation" is a human trait.  All people do it, because they want to be around the people who are most like them.  If I could surround myself with a bunch of book-loving movie buffs who think that music is the symphony to life and want to save the world and make it a better place for little girls and people of color and then relax on the beach with a cool drink and sexy man, I would.  Obviously, race shouldn't be the most important measure of similarity or difference.  But for a lot of people, it is.  I don't think that that's the case for most of the Black students who live in Ujamaa, though.  Many of them were well assimilated in mostly white schools before coming to Cornell.  For some of them, Cornell was the first time that they had a group of mostly Black friends, and they didn't have to explain why they don't wash their hair everyday, or why their mom talked with an accent, or what that funny smelling food was that her dad cooked when he visited, or any of the other things that made them different.  Sometimes, we don't want to be looked at as the different one, and if you think that you've never treated any of your Black friends like they were different (whether good or bad), you're more than likely sadly mistaken and should try examining yourself and the history of white people and why Blacks and other people of color may be tired of trying to fit in.  Hint:  White people have been segregating themselves for centuries.  Don't get mad, do some research.  You barely learned anything about this stuff in school, and half of what you did learn was a lie.  I know what I learned was a lie, and I found the truth in Ujamaa and all of the programs and organizations that came out of it.

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