Last semester my ‘blackness' was questioned by someone I was supposed to admire. Not only were the features of my appearance challenged but also were my personal contributions to my community. Defined as “not black enough”, I realized that I didn’t think I was unseen but unheard. As a film major, I navigate white spaces: myself and one other black person representing the plethora of Black identity in the film department. In these spaces we don’t study black directors, writers, or actors----instead topics of blackness are avoided altogether. When race is brought up, I often wonder how I am going to make my voice an impactful critique in an all-white industry, one that conjoins enlightenment with the racial and cultural implications of cinema. Unapologetic in my truth, I navigate a space that refuses to acknowledge it entirely.
My motivation for this magazine was to bring light to a few of identities present within our community: Jackie Iyamah’s personal definition of her “black experience”, the Greek community, STEM, Afro Punk, and the Black Activists. Those showcased in the magazine are not all identities within the black community, but they are the ones we chose to highlight.
Too often blackness is defined as a monolithic mindset by both those within and outside of the community; thus I want to highlight the differences not only in spaces, but in perspectives that Black people occupy. On a campus that strives for diversity, I sought to illustrate a diversity within a group of people that is frequently not recognized. Undoubtedly, the strongest way for this to be achieved would be through images. As in film and media, the image is everything: a visible institution of ideas unseen.
In closing I ask the readers to look for the voices of their peers not just in their commentary but in the technical aspects of photography as well. As we have captured their ontological presence, I ask you to examine what truly is being said and what truly is being seen.
As for myself, I refuse to define blackness with a sentence or prove to anyone my contributions to the community. This is not because those contributions often go unseen, but because those contributions are not to be reduced to simple numbers or anecdotes. My efforts are not attempts to prove my identity, but products of my identity itself.
As to the person who once questioned who I was, can you hear me now?