Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Critically viewing Black Solidarity Day

By Rocco Golden

Black Solidarity Day was held on campus, Monday, Nov. 7. Students of all different backgrounds and majors gathered in the largest lecture halls and rooms to attend teach-ins and activities. Students were able to enjoy lunch as food trucks arrived. The day ended with a keynote speaker. 

Black Solidarity Day, like many other holidays during our two semesters on campus, was not given off. Although many would like to see the day given off, it does not need to be. 

The day itself was packed full of events and talks that students could attend. An abundance of students attended different speaking events across campus. This year’s event is just one of many to come. In particular, this year is the first official Black Solidarity Day on campus. It represents a step forward for many people, including many students and professors of color, in what would otherwise be just a normal day. The day is able to help them better connect and communicate with the community. 

The day itself was filled to the brim with a wide variety of different speakers. The topics were diverse, ranging from science to the importance of religion. Being able to communicate on such a wide variety of topics allows for people to stay engaged and interested throughout the day, and it also shows just how much unshared information there really is. There was a lot of focus on historical figures and how their contributions influence people to this day.

On Plattsburgh’s campus in particular, there is always a lot of freedom of choice. A lot of students on campus will, without any doubts, choose to participate in Black Solidarity Day events, regardless of whether or not the day was given off. Classes became redundant because many professors gave the day off for students to participate and to give themselves the chance to partake as well.

The majority of classes were either canceled, or students retained an excused absence. There are some that might choose not to participate. 

Giving everyone the day off might defeat the purpose of the day if some people just see it as a day off, instead of a day to talk to and commemorate the people of color here on our campus. Black Solidarity Day is meant to be more of an informative and educational day, not just another holiday that people wait for so they can have the day off. The integration of Black Solidarity Day into the campus means a lot to our campus, and also the community. There are, and always will be, mixed opinions on the matter. Some see the introduction of Black Solidarity Day as something that might have been missing, something that should have been with us in past years. Many on campus see it as a new way to communicate, and also perhaps educate people on topics they may not know about. Some see it as a day that doesn’t mean too much to them, which is completely understandable. Not everyone on campus is as invested or interested in the teach-ins, some may be too busy with school work.

Many professors across the campus required some form of attendance for Black Solidarity Day, with some having graded assignments associated with talks, and the event as a whole. This is not the right thing to do. Similar to the whole “giving the day off” situation, making assignments and required attendance for Black Solidarity Day may cause a lot of people to miss the whole point of the day.

For the community and the town as a whole, having this day hosted on campus may bring about incentives to make the event more mainstream. There’s no doubt that Black Solidarity Day has a lot of history, some may want to be able to share that with a larger base — such as people in our surrounding area — rather than just everyone on our campus.

If students across campus are required to attend, and especially if they have assignments associated with the event, they may see the day as more of a chore or a burden than what is meant to be. Students should certainly not be forced to attend. Having people attend talks for the sole purpose of doing assignments is not what Black Solidarity Day is supposed to be for. It is definitely not the intention of those who brought it to campus.

Many of these forthcomings will be decided in the next few years. The future of Black Solidarity Day, at least here on campus, is solid. Its importance will remain and resonate with many people, yet how it was handled and its future still falls into question.

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