What it’s like to be Black at BYU

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BYU is known for many things, but diversity isn’t one of them. Only 1% of students at BYU are Black and their experiences vary from most students. Every person’s experience is different, but many deal with the challenges of racism. 

“People have been treated differently because of their race, and people’s experiences have been significantly affected,” Anthony Bates, managing director at BYU’s Sorensen Center for Moral and Ethical Leadership, said.

BYU is a predominantly white campus where some Black students feel they struggle to fit in. 

“It’s hard sticking out. It’s hard finding a place where you belong,” Black BYU student Jarett Thomas said. 

Some Black students have experienced racism when fellow students have made judgements or assumptions based on cultural stereotypes. This can make it difficult for students to feel like they belong. 

“What I wish people would see is who I really am and not the image the media portrays,” Thomas said. 

The way these students are treated based on media stereotypes can cause harm to Black students. However, most of the time this harm is not intentional. 

“I don’t think the majority of the time people are outright intending to do harm to other people,” Bates said.

What can help these students is educating about Black history and its current societal impact, as well as, listening to other people’s perspectives. 

“I’m speaking for my experiences and my experience will be completely different from someone else’s, and that’s okay,” said Thomas. 

As a BYU community, coming together to respect and acknowledge these perspectives is something that many Black students would appreciate. 

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