By SHELONDRA HARRIS ’17
Amy Jones, senior communication major, has been constantly reminded about one thing during her educational path at PLU. She has not been constantly reminded about her spelling and punctuation. She has not been constantly reminded about turning her assignments in on time. She has not even been constantly reminded that she cannot park in certain parking lots with a commuter parking pass. Jones said she has been constantly reminded that she is different. Jones has taken her campus experiences and turned these challenges into her mission to make her senior capstone about students of color in predominantly white institutions.
Jones explained in detail why she chose to do her capstone about the experiences of student of color in predominantly white instituions, specifically secondary education and the PLU experience. She said there are a few constant reminders of her differences.
“For a good majority of my academic career, I have been the only Black girl in any of my classes,” Jones said.
She then discussed invasions of space she had experienced as the only Black person in class. Micro-agressions, such as touching her hair, were a big part of Jones’ experience.
“She reached over and touched my hair,” said Jones. “I don’t see how the color of my skin entitles people to believe that I am their toy.”
Experiences such as these and the emotions behind them add fuel to Jones’ capstone project. With her paper and accompanying documentary her goals will be to allow the complex narrative of students of color to be heard.
Due to constant reminders Jones said it is hard to engage in learning because the dynamics of a predominantly white institution are emotionally draining. She explained how she loves PLU, but does not necessarily love the lack of inclusiveness on campus and how the school claims to be diverse.
“We shouldn’t have to fight to be comfortable in a classroom,” Jones said.
Other students of color on campus would agree with Jones’ statement. One particular participant who was interviewed and filmed within Jones’ documentary spoke on the lack of comfort she felt in class. Azana Hyneman, sophomore, African American, said there are times when she would prefer not to be singled out.
“Whenever the class brings up slavery or anything to remotely associate with African Americans, I am always the person they look to,” Hyneman said, “It’s like they think I can speak for my whole race”.
This testament was one of many that Jones will document for her capstone.
Jones said she does not know how successful her documentary will be, in terms of making an impact on campus. She said that there are ongoing conversations on campus, which surround issues about diversity, but nothing seems to be happening. The same arguments are being repeated and there are no solutions being implemented. Jones added that if her capstone and documentary were to make an impact, she would hope that professors would be more conscious of the language they use in class and make the academic setting more inclusive.
Jones emphasized that her goal with her capstone is not to attack anyone. Yet, she said she is not apologizing for being Black either. Jones wants people to not only hear anecdotes and opinions of the people she interviews, but solid facts.
“I am not asking for sympathy,” said Jones, “I want understanding and change is the goal.”
The final product of Jones’ capstone and documentary will be completed in December.