When speaking of excellence with reference to the black community, often times it is categorized into two groups: sports and entertainment. This stereotype developed during the Jim Crow era, as African-Americans were prevented from gaining any opportunity to advance.
With an oppressive mindset, it is easy to understand why many began to use their environments to gain access to the recreational world and as a source of therapy. As many began to excel in the arts, with little access to opportunity in other professional fields, the stereotype began to take over the image of the African American community carrying on into today’s generation.
In today’s media outlets, African-Americans tend to receive more acknowledgment for their roles within the sports and entertainment world, rather than other areas of excellence. The trend of the stereotype can not only be seen in the local news, but in college campus outlets as well.
After joining the school news team and studying the stereotypical trend, I decided to take a step towards change by starting a news outlet dedicated to promoting excellence in the form of all entrepreneurial, artistic, and business-related enterprises within the minority community on campus entitled “The Onyx Connect.”
Being an African American student at a predominately white institution can be very intimidating at times, especially when walking into a class of over 100 students and noticing that only 5 or 6 happen to look like you. When I transferred to Illinois State University I began to take in my surroundings, and since journalism is my major, I began to not only read the newspaper but also take note of the content and how many articles were written relating to African American students within the university.
There were very few articles highlighting excellence within our community, per say, it was most common to see a person of color in the sports and entertainment section than anywhere else in the paper. I live by the quote, “Be the change you want to see,” – Ghandi, so I decided to join the newspaper and use my platform to write articles that showcased organizations in our community such as the Black Student Union, Divine Nine, Black and Latino Male Movement, ISU NAACP and more.
After giving more exposure to the community and its organizations, I decided to take my platform to the next level by creating an outlet that would not only shed light on minority excellence but support students who have businesses on campus.
The Onyx Connect was officially created after I began studying the history of the Black Wallstreet that once existed in Greenwood, Oklahoma in the early 1900s during the time of segregation. Back then, the black community relied on each other for financial support; there were many black-owned businesses and the dollar circulated within the community which made it a success.
Thinking about how when attending a predominately white institution, it can be very hard to find hair salons, barber shops, ethnic restaurants and other companies that tend to the African American community culture, I went on a search for students on campus who provided these services. There were many students who did so, and I wanted to give them exposure, not only to help them gain more business but to help incoming students find resources from those who relate to them.
The Onyx Connect is now a registered student organization publication consisting of writers, photographers, and graphic designers who give exposure to the minority community on campus. My long-term goal is to create an Onyx Connect publication at all predominately white institutions nationwide.