Eye on the Triangle

On October 30th, the African American Cultural Center in partnership with Veteran Affairs and Student Media hosted the Harambee block party. In this episode, Jeanine Ikekhua speaks with black students and some the African American Cultural Center's staff member about their experience as black people at NC State.

What is Eye on the Triangle?

Eye on the Triangle is WKNC 88.1 FM HD-1/HD-2’s weekly public affairs programming with news, interviews, opinion, weather, sports, arts, music, events and issues that matter to NC State, Raleigh and the Triangle.

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Jeanine Ikekhua 00:21
The views and opinions expressed during Eye on the Triangle do not represent WKNC or NC State Student Media. Your dial is currently tuned into Eye on the Triangle and WKNC 88.1 FM HD one. Thanks for listening.

Jeanine Ikekhua 00:40
On October 28, I attended the Harambee block party, hosted by the African American Cultural Center, in partnership with Veteran affairs and Student Media. At this event, black and non black students and staff gathered to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the African American Cultural Center. While at the event, I spoke to the students and faculty members about their experiences black people at NC State. Specifically, I spoke to three student leaders, these student leaders are Mya McDowell, who's the vice president of Black Student Board, the president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council Alvin Muntoge, and the President of NC State's NAACP Brianna.

Jeanine Ikekhua 01:17
Where do you find community at NC State? And how is that different as a black student?

Mya McDowell 01:22
I honestly find my community in the offices built specifically for black students. Because I feel like as minorities, I feel like it makes it harder for us to find community because it's a very white campus. So I find my community in the spaces on campus built for us.

Jeanine Ikekhua 01:41
So where can black students get connected to build community on campus?

Mya McDowell 01:46
I would suggest the Multicultural Student Affairs Office, or MSA, located on the fourth floor in Tally right across from the SI suite. Or I would suggest the African American Cultural Center, which is on the third floor Witherspoon. We also have a library on the second floor of Witherspoon as well. I feel like those are two big places that you can get connected as a black student on campus.

Jeanine Ikekhua 02:08
What does it mean to create a home on campus for you?

Mya McDowell 02:11
I think it's surrounding you with people who support you. People who share the same goals as you or who are driven, and drive you as well. I feel like being in community of people like that really helps you to build that home life and making sure you're surrounding yourself with people with good energy.

Jeanine Ikekhua 02:31
Thank you. Where do you find community at NC State and how is that different as a black student?

Alvin Muntogi 02:36
Community for me at NC State is really, it's all about the African American Cultural Center in MSA, the staff there, they work real hard to create a real welcoming environment and then it kind of creates spaces for students like me, when I came here as a freshman, you know, I didn't know where to go, I go to places like what's on the table, you know, programs like events like symposium that kind of helped create a real sense of community and then now the upperclassmen, I can provide that for others. And so, yeah, particularly as a black student, it's, you know, seeing another black student, you know, asking them a little bit about themselves, you know, making sure they connect with the right resources, whether that be NSBE, you know, Black Business Student Association, MAPS Minority Association for Pre Health Students, whatever it may be making sure they know about it, and are able to, you know, come into the space and join the community.

Jeanine Ikekhua 03:21
So I know you talked about, like, how you went to what's on the table when you were incoming? So I tried to find community, what are some other places that black students like who are incoming can like go to the find community?

Alvin Muntogi 03:31
Yeah, so like, the great thing about NC State is that if you're a freshman, no matter your major, for the most part, you're going to be on main campus, at least for part of your day. And you're probably going to go to Talley at least once or twice. So entirely, you should definitely stop by MSA Multicultural Student Affairs, stop by the suite. And then if you ever if you ever find yourself on East Campus, you know, pop out Witherspoon on the third floor of the African American Cultural Center, it's a good place to get work done, or, you know, goof off, you know, if it's, if people are in there deep, and it's a good time. So yeah, really, those two spaces is where you should go. If you're a freshman, if you're new to campus, if you're a transfer student, just seeking community.

Jeanine Ikekhua 04:07
What does it mean to create home on campus for you?

Alvin Muntogi 04:10
Home on campus, for me is really my my small group of people, my small, closest group of friends, and I never would have met them if it were not for organizations like ASU African Student Union, or programs like what's on the table of spaces like MSA and the African American Cultural Center. And so home for me is really like, my family away from my family, like my peoples, my little circle, and that wouldn't be possible without the centers and everybody, um doing their job. So I owe a real debt of gratitude to everybody that came before me and set this up, so that we can meet each other.

Jeanine Ikekhua 04:42
That's all the questions I have for you. Thank you so much. Where do you find community at NC State? And how was that different as a black student?

Brianna 04:48
Um, being a black student at PWI like your community is smaller than the average population here obviously, because we're the minority. And then when looking at it, we're like the super minority compared to other minorities typically. So Like, I found my community when I got connected, like first year with like the Multicultural Symposium we did like in those first years. And then like, yes, hold it by Multicultural Student Affairs, you have the Women's Center that also connects you and welcomes everybody and African American Cultural Center who is holding this event. It's like, easy to get connected to, but honestly, I found most of my connections when I went to like social media and just looked up like black organizations or places and spaces were like minority peoples like shown and present. And I just like visited that space and I just felt welcomed in.

Jeanine Ikekhua 05:32
And you're the you're currently the president of

Brianna 05:35

Jeanine Ikekhua 05:40
What is NAACP for people who don't know?

Brianna 05:42
It's the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and so here at NC State we basically like, help all marginalized communities not only like people of color, but people like LGBT community as well.

Jeanine Ikekhua 05:56
My next question is, where can black students get connected to build community on campus?

Brianna 06:01
Honestly, the best bet for you is to go to like, well, most people on campus, we have like a diversity coordinator of each college. So you can find places like that and people like that also, if you just visited one of the community centers, such as like African American Cultural Center, or the MSA with the Multicultural Student Sffairs, Women's Center, you can always visit those you can find and get connected and they also have people that connect you to other people. So if you want to, like tailor into something specific, they can set you up with those type of people.

Jeanine Ikekhua 06:30
Okay, my last question for you is, what does it mean to create a home on campus?

Brianna 06:34
Honestly, me finding my home, okay, I didn't find it until like, the middle of the end towards the end of my first semester. So I honestly went home like every other weekend, because I just got real sad just being here at NC State, and I wasn't feeling at home. Once I found my community, I feel like it helped me get adjusted. I didn't feel like I needed to transfer or find somewhere else to go. And they really welcomed me and also open up my network and since I have found my home on campus, and like, went to these spaces and these community centers, I actually am like more opportunities internships, network, and they're like, Hey Brianna, I thought of you so here you go let me plug you in real quick, just like, it feels like home and I don't have to go home all the time, save me money and gas. And also when I'm down, I know I got a quick place to go.

Jeanine Ikekhua 07:16
I also interviewed AJ hills and Lydia Solomon, who are some of the black students who attended the event.

AJ Hills 07:23
My name is AJ. I'm a sophomore.

Jeanine Ikekhua 07:26
Okay, my first question for you is where do you find community at NC State? And how is that different as a black student?

AJ Hills 07:33
I tend to find community. And normally the AACC. That's where I've met most of my friends and a lot of black student events. That's especially the ones that BSB who's like, back to school jam, and these things I've met. I've met some of my best friends at college so far from these events. That's normally where I find community. I have, you know, I have friends of different races, but there's certain things that you know, they cannot relate to, you know, so I'd say, AACC, the black communities have been a great help.

Jeanine Ikekhua 08:12
Okay, so um, is this your first time on campus?

AJ Hills 08:15
Yes. This is my first time on campus.

Jeanine Ikekhua 08:17
How has that experince been?

AJ Hills 08:20
It's been a lot of walking. A whole lot of sweating.

Jeanine Ikekhua 08:25

AJ Hills 08:27
And a whole lot of bipolar weather. But I can say that, honestly, it's I've enjoyed it. It's been a very big adjustment period from online to in person, but I think I'm handling it well enough. I'll definitely do better next semester, though. This semester has been shaky, but next semester, I'll be better.

Jeanine Ikekhua 08:49
No, definitely. I definitely. I definitely agree with that. Me too. My last question for you is what does it mean to create a home on campus?

AJ Hills 08:56
What it means create a home on campus? I'd say it means having a community of people that you know you could rely on. This is a big campuse a lot, a lot of people a lot of different faces you're going to see every day. But I think community means having like not even a big group. It could be like three four people that you know, you call them anytime that your down as your homies, you know, for me that I think is community.

Jeanine Ikekhua 09:22
Have you been able to find that?

AJ Hills 09:24
Yeah, well, yeah. Well, one friend who I'd say I call anytime, you know, you come over, you know, it's like, That's my dog. So I could say, I found that I you know, I've got different acquaintances you know, it's nice, but you know, I've like one friend friend. So.

Jeanine Ikekhua 09:43
That's all the questions that I have for you. Thank you so much. Where do you find community at NC State and how is that different as a black student?

Lydia Solomon 09:51
Um, how I find community here is honestly through other ethnic people. It's can be really confusing and you can lose your yourself when you're surrounded by this many white people at this, you know, like 20,000 students, and there's only like a small percentage of black people, I think it's like 1000 or less, really, I know, it's kind of scary. So, um, I think just whatever, like, you see, like, you know, another person of color, you know, you just say hi. And you, you know, make that introduction, and then hopefully become friends from that and you create your own little niche here.

Jeanine Ikekhua 10:23
Where can black students get connected to build community on campus?

Lydia Solomon 10:27
Honestly, I'm still trying to figure that one out. Because I mean, there's obviously you know, like the Nubian message, and like, other organizations and clubs, that post, you know, everything about black student involvement, but it kind of like you don't you don't know, like, if people are actually going to show up. And like, if it's considered cool for, you know, because like, some people are like, oh, like, I don't know, if I'm gonna show or not. So I'm, I'm still trying to figure that one out. But as the year goes on, I hope that I get more involved into that as well.

Jeanine Ikekhua 10:55
Um my last question is what does it mean to create a home on campus?

Lydia Solomon 10:59
Um, to definitely create that community of people who look like you who have, you know, shared experiences as you, it's really important to, you know, have those friends who you know, that you can rely on and not just on, you know, like, who you're going to go out with, you know, that night or whatever. But honestly, like, if you're, if you feel like you know, that you're feeling secluded, you know, in this sea of whiteness, so important to have people you can talk to and, you know, have experiences that a lot of people can't relate to, because a lot of people here aren't black, and I'm saying that 1000, we got 1000. That 1000 gotta stick together.

Jeanine Ikekhua 11:35
Okay. At the event, I also interviewed some of the people who work at the African American Cultural Center, I interviewed the president of the African American Cultural Center Angela Gay Audre, Kristen Surrels a graduate student, and Adrian a work student at the African American Cultural Center. Why is it important to nurture and support spaces such as the African American Cultural Center?

Angela Gay-Audre 12:00
So why it's important to nurture spaces like African American cultural centers, it's important because if you say that you care about black folks, and you say that black lives matter, if you're writing diversity statements, you have to back it up those words mean things and we need actions that show in support black folks on this campus we are on a predominately white campus, what that actually means is that we're minoritized here in this space. So we can easily show up in a classroom and be the only person in that space, we can easily show up in any office, whether our faculty, staff, or students can be the only person in that space. And when we show up as that person in that space that feels like we have to be tokenized in a way that takes away from the richness of our identity, the richness of our culture, who we actually are, we need to know that the poster people behind the diversity statements, the people behind the policies and procedures, that people behind the words have the actions to actually step in and support us every single day. So when something happens as a as a consequence of being minoritized in predominantly white spaces, we need to know no matter where we go, that we're gonna find someone who cares about us, who supports us, who's gonna back us up and when something goes wrong, we know that we got somebody there. So the African American Cultural Center is a space that allows us to think about what it means to actually put actions to our words every single day. To nurture this space needs to nurture black folks all over campus, no matter their identity, no matter what they hold every single day.

Jeanine Ikekhua 13:29
Thank you so much.

Angela Gay-Audre 13:30
You're welcome. Thank you.

Jeanine Ikekhua 13:33
Thank you so much. My question for you is why is it important to nurture and support spaces such as the African American Cultural Center?

Kristen Surrels 13:41
Um, I think it's really important to just give space to black people because they're so often deprived of having space and just having that allows black people to thrive in a way that they've been denied for so many years. And just like being able to give that just helps students like actually feel at home and comfortable and prepared at a PWI.

Jeanine Ikekhua 14:01
Thank you. So where do you find community at NC State and how is that different as a black student?

Adrian 14:07
Community, I find community through the centers here, like the Multicultural Affairs or the African American Cultural Center, where I work at, they just, you know, build, they have the space where we can come together, do work, talk about issues that we are facing and just enjoy the experience, you know.

Jeanine Ikekhua 14:28
Where can black students get connected to build community on campus?

Adrian 14:33
Same thing at this at the centers, so Multicultural Student Affairs and the African American Cultural Center, where I work at.

Jeanine Ikekhua 14:41
What does it mean to create a home on campus for you?

Adrian 14:44
Building a home on campus is super major because you know, attending a PWI you feel you are the minority but you don't always have to feel like that when you build community around you and you know this space so it makes you feel more at home.

Jeanine Ikekhua 15:02
Thank you. Lastly, I interviewed Isaih Lucas, who is the program director at the African American Cultural Center. Isaih Lucas curated that current art gallery display, the current displays on the second floor of the Witherspoon building, and it's about the return home features for black NC State University graduates named Jay Stacy Yodlee, Robyn Bess, Jason Franklin and Brittany Simone. So can you talk to me just a bit about exactly like what type of art is being displayed at the art gallery?

Isaih Lucas 15:34
Yeah, so right now we are portraying some of the work about black alumni who have graduated from NC State and who are doing amazing things in the art world. We are featuring four artists who both bring four unique mediums to the space one being big oil canvases, and one being for digital photography and painting together, one photography as a whole, and then one is public art. So we have a wide variety of art in the art gallery, but all of them centered the black experience in unique ways.

Jeanine Ikekhua 15:58
Why do you think it was important to portray in a way such as like an art gallery?

Isaih Lucas 16:03
Well, specifically in this art gallery, I thought it was important because when you think about being situated at a historically predominately white institution, sometimes black people don't get the celebration in the space, the spaces they deserve. And when you think about Red and White Week at NC State, you got to have as many black spaces as you can, because you know, black people, we deserve nice stuff. And I'm always going to be that person to give us those nice things. So Red and White Week is a time where alum come back to NC State to celebrate their return home. So I thought how I can use the work that I do in African American Cultural Center to also contribute to that. So that art exhibit is important because it highlights black alumni during the week where alumni are most important.

Jeanine Ikekhua 16:40
So what do you think it means to create a home on campus?

Isaih Lucas 16:45
I think to create a home is to find a space that is unique to you and accepts all that you bring and accepts you at the most authentic version of yourself and there's a space that you can learn, I suppose that you can grow. I think home is a space that holds you accountable. So that group that network on campus that's going to hold you accountable that's going to love you that's going to support you. It's also going to tell you when you write until you when you are on death's home, and I encourage every black student at NC State to find their home here at the African American Cultural Center, because we're all that and then some.

Jeanine Ikekhua 17:14
I like that a lot. Thank you so much. Music in this episode has been North Oakland Ecstasy by Squadobee licensed under the YouTube Audio Library. This has been Jeanine Ikekhua for WKNC Radio. Thank you for listening to today's episode. You can listen to more episodes at wknc.org/podcasts and you can also tune in every Sunday at 6pm to hear new episodes from Eye on the Triangle.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai