The independent news organization of Duke University

Something to talk about

It was the type of story we wanted to write but never thought we could. How could we do justice to "The Black Experience at Duke?"

We realized pretty quickly that it wouldn't be fair to assume that there was just one Black Experience-one collective narrative that could encompass so many individuals' stories.

So many factors help determine our experience at this school-field of study, friends, teachers, activities; to say that race defines us seems misguided.

So instead of writing one story to represent the experience of an entire diverse group of people, we wrote ten, each attempting to capture the experience of just one person. We've included them in this issue, under the same headline, because we consider them to be parts of the same story.

That story, however, is infinitely complex.

So we ask you to read each of the profiles and then draw your own conclusions. Perhaps BSA President Malik Burnett's essay about his year as president will help.

We don't have all the answers-we don't even pretend to. Is there a "black community" at Duke? Are there experiences that many, most or all of Duke's black students share? Is there one, definable Black Experience at Duke?

Our hunch is to say 'No,' because to say 'Yes' is to reduce individual lives into easily definable stereotypes. But feel free to disagree.

The important thing is to have the conversation.

As one of the ten profilees puts it: "Duke brags so much about its diversity, and it was so exciting to come to this place.... But freshman year, it was really disappointing. It was like, 'Oh, I'm spending all my time with my black friends and pretty much everybody else was spending time with people that they're similar to....' I don't really have all those grand visions of everybody holding hands and all different colors and things like that."

So ask someone what Duke has been like for them, and don't be afraid to share your own experiences. Maybe then we'll move a step closer to that grand vision.


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