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Nikole Churchill, You Too Are Hampton University

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CWR Student’s Forum

January 2010

Nikole Churchill, You Too Are Hampton University

By Dervedia Thomas

Dervedia Thomas - South Carolina State University Student from Trinidad and Tobago

Dervedia Thomas – South Carolina State University Student from Trinidad and Tobago

Really?

Are people really angry that Miss Hampton is white? How are African Americans arguing about this with a straight face? We just got finished fighting to have a black president elected and then we turn around and argue that Nikole Churchill, a student of Hampton University should be denied the opportunity of a title at her own school.

Really?

I assumed that most people would dismiss this controversy as pure garbage, but I was alarmed to read in Blackcollegewire that African American students actually believe that this young lady’s achievement is without merit.

Barack Obama’s victory as the first African American president has been heralded the start of the post-racial era; where a person can be judged not by the color of his or her skin, but by substance. Isn’t Churchill’s win just another manifestation of this?

I agree that it is strange and down right controlling for a University to pick the representative for the student body rather than have students vote, but students have not been voting for a Miss Hampton, why is it a problem now….oh I forgot, she’s white.

Criticism of this decision ranges from, “A white Miss Hampton is not representative of an HBCU” to “This title is intended to uplift African American women [only].” I say to all the critics, if you have a problem with a non African American representing your university, then stop taking their money when they enroll. Simply turn them away and say sorry, you are not an accurate representation of our university or sorry, HBCUs are intended to uplift African Americans ONLY.

Nikole Churchill - Miss Hampton University

Nikole Churchill – Miss Hampton University

Many may disagree with my point of view, but like it or not color as well as race are definitely major issues within the African American community. Recently, an article written by our Managing Editor Jonathan White entitled “Light skin si still in for men, but for women…” received heavy criticism by a faculty member who called it distasteful. The article discussed poll results which revealed that 64 percent of black male students surveyed preferred light skin women, while 72 percent of black female students preferred dark skin men. He [the faculty member] later explained to me that while color is a reality, there are so many other realities that we can talk about and it looked especially bad “in front of all these white students on campus.”

My answer to that is: Good! It should look bad, because it is bad that we have all these prejudices within the African American community. The only way to deal with it is to identify it and face it.

Last semester two Collegian staff members came together to write article about the way they are taunted about their light skin complexions and the prejudices they face from students at SC State. This was a personal account but to date, I still meet students who discount these girls’ experiences, saying it’s not true, darker skinned women have it harder. Does it matter who has it harder? It’s like arguing about what’s worse, the Holocaust or Slavery (I’ve actually heard people wasting time arguing about this).

The point is no-one, light or dark, should be called names and discriminated against.   Instead of comparing who has it harder, let’s examine ourselves to see what prejudices we have and how we hurt others by it.

In my opinion America is still segregated to some degree. I recently discussed this with a fellow international student who as a freshman is in shock over how Black and White America is. Black Churches, White Churches, Black Malls, White Malls, Black schools, White Schools…the list goes on.

I dare use  Langston Hughes’ poem I, too, sing America, as an anecdote for this situation. Nikole Churchill you too are HamptonUniversity. You are the white student at an HBCU. Wear your crown with pride and if they don’t like it, let them give you a full refund of your tuition money.

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