“The Black Bruins [Spoken Word] – Sy Stokes”

I’m posting this piece in solidarity because although no one else can relay the thoughts and experiences in the way that this poet has lived them, the experiences being shared in this video are not unique to what is happening  at his campus, but can be found across schools nationwide.

I was the only Black male in my undergraduate program, and among a handful of others who came out in my graduating class. In graduate school, I again found myself among only a small portion of students of color, and participated in social action with others to boldly but non-violently bring race to the forefront of the dialogue in an educational environment that felt unresponsive to our concerns.

Now, I dedicate my time to working to change the environment; working with others and using dialogue and action as a vehicle to get to a more equitable and socially just place.

In this work I can use myself as a resource to students who are having feelings of disillusionment when they are met with the contradiction that can exist between the environment that is advertised before their arrival, and the one in which they actually experience.

Although these narratives do not come from students with whom I’ve worked with, their sharing can provide an informative snapshot of some of the issues that can demonstrate the need for dialogue as a way to learn, gain a better understanding, and to do something differently than what is currently being done.

From the Michigan Daily:

A Safe Space for Whom?

Being a Black Detroiter in Ann Arbor

I got into a fight over race

Sometimes problem solving can be approached by taking action to stop disruption and return things back to normal. However, as with other institutions, education has a race problem.

Instead of trying to return things to “normal”, I think it’s important to recognize the inherent structural racism that directly informs what that “normal” looks like, and how it is reinforced and maintained in order to move toward creating something better and entirely different.

No one can do it alone. Institutions are supported by people with ideas and attitudes. So I share this video in hopes that it will reach the heart and mind of someone who can hear the message.


From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins, MSW



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Written by

I'm a Social Justice Educator and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities. "Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian" is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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1 Response

  1. June 15, 2016

    […] to interrupt and end institutional racism continues today.  On campuses around the country, from The Black Bruins, to #BBUM, to the I Too, Am Harvard, Oxford, and Princeton campaigns, and with the activism that […]

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