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Byron Blandford, Black Student Union (BSU) president wants something different out of this year’s Black History Month. “I love Black History Month but it frustrates me because people have such a narrow idea about it,” Blandford said. “Black history month is more than a time to parade around and celebrate culture, there is more to it than that.” The BSU at Pacific University aims to focus on “community building, going to small events” and interacting with people, Blandford said. Ultimately, Blandford and the BSU want “to have activities for people to engage with us in discussion that is bigger than a cultural celebration that will be appropriated,” he added. In honor of Black History Month, the BSU will be screening the new films “Hidden Figures” and “Moonlight,” and a people of color discussion on campus. They will also be attending the school production, Veils, and the Boys and Girls Club Youth Summit with the Portland Trailblazers. The university library will also have a display of art and books by black authors and artists, featuring a few pieces by students in BSU. Blandford wants to take advantage of the attention that Black History Month brings to racism in order to begin conversations of race on campus.
He stressed the importance of having these conversations continuously, “not just for one forum, or for one month of the year,” he said. Acknowledging the tentativeness to honestly discuss racism, Blandford said “we need spaces where we can talk about things and not be attached to the end result, to winning the conversation by changing the way other people think.” Blandford also recognized how hard it is for many people to confront their prejudice. “Some people think because they are a person of color they can’t be racist, but everyone has prejudices in them,” Blandford said. “I wish more people could understand they are not apart from the situation.” Everyone is involved in at least one way, either perpetuating prejudice, dealing with how prejudice affects them, or standing by and enabling people to perpetuate prejudice.