N.C. Central University hosted social activist Ruby Sales in the B.N. Duke auditorium last Thursday to start a series of Black History Month events on campus. Sales gave a majority of the spotlight to the additional guest speakers she brought with her to discuss racial politics in society.
2017 NCCU Graduate Adrian Blackmon kicked off the event with by singing “Mary Mary don’t give up”, with a crowd of roughly 150 people singing along.
Following a prayer at Sales request, a spiritual reflection on our time on Earth and racism in the U.S.A. was given by President and CEO of Movement of Youth Atrayus O. Goode.
“We forget our time on Earth is a gift from God,” Goode said. “How are we spending it?”
Goode spent time reflecting on being at predominately white school, and being racially profiled by his classmates.
“I remember walking in on study groups I wasn’t invited to because my classmates thought I couldn’t contribute,” he said. “And not being called on in class, where I didn’t look like my peers.” He also mentioned how often he got asked if he was an athlete, which got a chuckle from the audience.
Goode also used his time to speak about being a member of NCCU’s chapter of 100 Black Men on campus. 100 Black Men is a mentoring program, primarily for minority students, with a focus on improving their students and communities through educational and economical opportunities.
“Their program is influential in my life, because when I was five years old, my mother began using crack cocaine, but 100 Black Men has helped me reconcile my past and figure out how I can have a better future,” Goode said.
Along the way, Goode said that he discovered something about the organization that most would not expect.
“There’s a proper way to act, in order to be successful in life that you’re shown,” he said. “Code switching, that all black and brown people know.” He said that “acting white” is the only way for people of color to be deemed “worthy” of respect in mainstream culture.
“It’s time for everybody to realize that being respectable and appearing a certain way is beside the point, because institutionalized racism cannot be overcome by just mentors though,” he said.
“When will the mentoring stop because the governments finally listened to us?” Goode yelled to the roaring applause of the crowd.
“Black and Brown people being mentored need to understand this: you’re not the object of missionary charity-you built this country,” he said.
He closed out by saying, “If you’re not outraged about what’s going on in the world right now, you’re not paying attention.”
After Goode left the stage, NCCU Graduate Adrian Blackmon came back on stage to perform “Wade in the Water”. This tied into the message Sales brought up next when she took the stage.
“We are here tonight to trouble the waters, and come out the other end on the way to being brand new,” Sales said.
During her lecture, Sales revealed that, to her, the shared experience of being on slave ships as the first African Americans is what made black people realize “we are somebody”.
“White supremacy is a deadly disease,” she said. “It wipes out every civilization it touches.”
Lastly, she spoke on the the effects of it on children of color. “The government is against them, and these kids are at war for their future, which the won’t have as long as White supremacy is around,” Sales said.