Black Student Union at Broward College
Black Student Union (BSU) at Broward College North Campus was created by 17-year-old sophomore Jocelyn Daniel. The other officers (also sophomores) include Co-Vice Presidents Ricardo Julien,17, and Zamar Nicely, 17, alongside 18-year-old BSU Ambassador Arleigha Byer. The meetings began in Nov. 2019 and BSU officially became a club in spring of 2020.
Daniel, founder and President of BSU, began this club so Black Americans and people of color (POC) could find ways to connect despite their difference in cultures and perspectives.
“I started BSU because I wanted to create an open space for minorities to talk about their hardships and struggles,” she said. “And also so we could talk about our different cultural backgrounds.” She also believed this club would be a great way to create a diverse community on campus.
As Co-Vice Presidents, Julien and Nicely assist the President with making sure the club runs smoothly. They come up with topics based on current events to drive discussions and hear out different opinions from members as well as how the Black community can improve on and in what areas.
“I wanted to be part of a club, the Black community at BC,” said Julien. He believes BSU was made to encourage and empower POC and Black people to step into the community. Nicely also believes BSU is about building a community and unity. She believes it is important for members to discuss their shared experiences as people living in America during a time with extreme societal and political differences inside of or that affect the Black community and POC.
As Ambassador, Byer is responsible for representing the club when the other officers are busy and coming up with ways to engage with and recruit new members for the club. “I think the purpose of BSU is to provide a safe space for any person that wants to learn about the issues that Black people struggle with or people who want to learn about Black Americans in general,” she said. “Some topics can be viewed as either detrimental or positive for POC communities and the Black community.”
“I’m honestly so happy I have BSU” said Byer.
From her own personal experience, she has been introduced to a variety of issues like colorism and White passing Black people which she never thought of before joining BSU.
She was never really surrounded by people who looked like her when she was in certain places so knowing there were people who went through the same exact obstacles that she faced as a Black woman made her feel more comfortable with expressing her opinions, especially those on race; it gives her a community to lean on as she steps into adulthood knowing she will have to deal with racism. She hopes BSU gives future members strength to embraces their blackness, “through skin color, culture…anything.”
The turnout at meetings exceeded Daniel’s expectations. When she first started, she thought it was going to be a small club with about 20 people, but now it has grown to over 60 people from different campuses and connections to surrounding universities.
Nicely would agree with Daniel about BSU’s growth. “I would say it lived past my expectations,” she said.
On the other hand, Julien had a difference in opinion. “No, the club hasn’t lived up to my expectations because of COVID,” he said.
BSU planned a cookout but eventually could not execute it due to the pandemic; they are still trying to work on bringing the members together, especially the class of 2021 before graduation. Black Student Union passed Byer’s expectations because she was exposed to a variety of perspectives.
Daniel hopes the club grows and produces a new generation of leaders. The club started with six students meetings in the school café and it turned out even bigger despite obstacles faced in the beginning.
“I was personally advised not to create this club, but I did it anyways,” said Daniel.
Julien believes BSU’s biggest impact is to educate and inform the uneducated about issues within the Black/POC communities and the events occurring in the world at the moment dealing with those issues.
Nicely hopes others are able to gather new perspectives from individuals with unique backgrounds and that it encourages people to reach their goals in the future and focus on their career paths.
BSU is open to anyone that is a BC student. “It doesn’t matter where you’re from, your race, ethnicity or gender,” said Daniel. Daniel encourages anyone to become part of this club and to become part of a community.
During meetings, a variety of topics are discussed. “We let the conversation flow,” said Daniel. “Most times, we are usually laughing and having fun. It’s nothing stressful.”
Angel Anderson, 17, is a freshman at BC who is a member of BSU because she wanted to be surrounded by people who looked like her. She participated in many discussions, for example the difference between Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and what generally makes one Black.
“My favorite discussion was when we talked about racial and ethnic slurs and how they are always compared to the N-word and the Black American struggle,” she said. ”What’s considered slurs here may not be considered a slur in different parts of the world.”
Anderson recommends that others join BSU, especially those who have trouble identifying with themself, especially Black Americans.
“Be open minded and get ready to see multiple point of views,” she said. Anderson loves how there are many issues within POC/Black communities that can be discussed in the club. The issues can include homophobia, underlying prejudice and hate.
The next Black Student Union meeting is on Feb. 25, 2021 in which they are holding elections to replace current officers who will graduate after the spring semester. The club is also working on getting graduation sashes for the class of 2021.
BSU holds bi-weekly meetings on Thursdays on Google Hangout at 4:30 p.m. Before the pandemic, meetings used to occur in the café or student center. To stay updated on Black Student Union, follow their Instagram @bsuatbc.