BLM Jan Term Course: Raw and Uncensored

“I’m already pretty woke, but I always feel like there’s more to learn,” said Jessykah Frank ’22, a business major and music minor. She was one of 25 students in the culturally diverse Black Lives Matter Jan Term class. Frank, who identifies as Black/Guyanese added, “This course impacted me in a personal way. I got to have a space where everything is pro Black, and it was so empowering!”

Some of the topics discussed in the BLM class include what it means to be Black, passing, shading, interracial dating, police brutality, racial profiling, oppression, confronting whiteness, unapologetic Blackness and more. “I appreciate how having a number of non-Black students in the class allows for the conversation to abruptly change without warning,” said Calvin Monroe, instructor of the BLM class. “I’ve seen white students raise their hand on a question for Black students, displaying courage and vulnerability.”

For Vanessa Lemay-Finister ’22, a Kinesiology major who identifies as Black, Native American, Italian and French, the BLM Jan Term class allows her a full month to focus solely on her identity. “This course has allowed me to think about my life, my experiences, and my family’s experiences. In one class, I cried because there are so many people in this country who don’t want to see people who look like me succeed,” said Lemay-Finister. “The class also allowed me to dive deep into my anger and frustration.”

Students are required to journal daily. “A student in the class who is from another country shared a painful story of how he was called the “N” word by a white friend. It was deeply hurtful,” said Monroe. “He was brought to tears in the class, but he still had the courage to share his feelings—and what happened after was the most heartwarming. His classmates validated his experience, and told him they are here for him.”

Myla Love ’22, a psychology major who identifies as Black expressed that she took the BLM Jan Term course after the events of last summer. “I wanted to know what I could do as a Black person. I was feeling down, discouraged, helpless, and angry toward the world,” said Love. “Black lives and Black stories need to be amplified! We need to be taught our beauty, our strength, our importance,” she added. 

The students believe that BLM should be a semester course. Frank added, “Considering how white our education system is, this class is very important at Saint Mary’s and should be required. We [Blacks] don’t have the option of living through what horrible things happen to Black people, so others shouldn’t have the option to learn it or not.”