What it means to be a black student at LSE
What was your initial experience of the Black Community at LSE?
Coming into LSE, I think we all had the same reservations and worries about whether or not we were going to find many who were like us- people who listened to the same music, watched the same TV Shows. My first initial experience of LSE’s Black community was at the ACS’s Meet and Greet and I was surprised at how many black people there actually were at LSE. At LSE, it’s possible to go through an entire day without seeing a single black person and while that’s probably just the nature of our university, to see a room full of us was amazing. You realise how much of a presence we have as collective. It’s also incredibly empowering given the nature of our university. You know that everyone in that room is intelligent and will likely go on to do incredible things, have successful careers and effect change. It is a great community to be apart of.
Do you feel like this initial experience has changed/developed during your time at LSE? How do you feel that it can be enhanced?
I believe the nature of the Black community will always be similar in the sense that it will always be comprised of influential and intelligent individuals. One way we can enhance this experience though, is if we treated each other as our brother’s keepers. Being willing to help each other with things ranging applications to general university advice and also just coming together more as a community. Being at LSE can be a culture shock, so being able to meet people, attend events and connect with people would help to foster more of a family environment. Despite our growing numbers, we are still a minority and as such, looking out for one another would really go a long way.
In your current position as ACS president, how do you seek to use the Society to enhance the experience of African and Caribbean students at LSE?
What we have tried to do this year is to give our members a full university experience. We recognise that our members have a social need to connect with, understand and learn more about one another. So we have organised outings, socials and the like to proactively facilitate the social side of university.
Beyond this, from an academic perspective, the new thing we have done is we have launched a mentorship programme through which members in their first year have been paired with third year students who have similar degree backgrounds or desired career trajectories. We hope that through all our efforts this year, people view the ACS as a support system and a family they can come to, to gain advice on a range of things. We also hope to have been and continue to be a means of enhancing their university experience in every way possible.
Do you feel an organisation like The Grapevine ACN is beneficial to the cultivation of a stronger LSE African and Caribbean student and alumni body? If so, how so?
This platform is so powerful and influential because every year there is a stock of African & Carrbibean students who graduate and go into the world without any remaining connections to the LSE or the AC students who will follow suit in years to come.. With this network you can already see that there is a list of so many influential people who were once part of the ACS just like us and who are now in the world doing amazing things-working at the largest companies in the world, influencing policy in countries etc. I think the Grapevine is important because it enables us to maintain a connection with these people and to know that they have been through similar experiences to ours. It is also very empowering for younger students to see the heights they can attain.
What is next for the ACS?
We have our annual cultural production, Ablaze coming up on March 5th 2018. It’s going to be taking place in the peacock theatre. It’s going to be an amazing event, we have an amazing storyline for you guys, amazing performances and a special guest. So be sure to follow us on our socials @LSESUACS!