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“Racism affects everything we do”: Former Black Student Union president aims to build awareness

This week, The Forum sat down with Jared Winn-Taryor to learn more about the Black Student Union and the group’s presence at Westminster College.

Winn-Taryor, a music studies major, has been involved with the Black Student Union since he was a first-year at Westminster. He was president of the union during his junior year until Jasmine McWilliams stepped into the position.

Answers have been lightly edited for conciseness and clarity. 

Q: Can you tell me about the Black Student Union’s goal and its purpose?

A: BSU’s purpose is to one: Build community. And two: To build a legacy here at Westminster. Our goal is for every Black student to know about us on campus, and for every Black student to be a part of us on campus. 

In addition to every Black person knowing about us, then every person on campus needs to know about us. And, also that [goes] into our purpose.

Q: Is the Black Student Union hosting any events this semester?

A: Events are popping up as we go along through the calendar year. Our first event is a topic meeting. 

That’s when we talk, do whatever we got to do and we come together. And we have deep conversations, hard conversations with each other. And so that type of meeting is happening sometime next week. 

Then we also have our events, which are our social events. We’re just having fun, having a good time and we get to be with each other. So that’s going to be our paint night and we’re just going to come together and paint, and have a good time.

Q: What does activism mean to you?

A: So activism, to me, is a lifestyle, essentially. And it’s more than just a label, and it’s more than just… You hear the things you do, as an activist. 

These are activist’s actions, but these are… It’s essentially like a person, aside from labeled activism. An activist exists because the world is objectively messed up. 

Activism is taking those actions and doing what we can to make it better for everyone else.

Q: What are some things that you wish people understood about being a Black student?

A: What I wish people understood about being a Black student is one: Just understanding how racism and essentially colonialism — but in this case, racism — affects everything that we do. 

It’s in literally everything, and that affects how we walk on this campus, and the classes that we take, how we feel in our classes and how — Especially for white people, they can have these conversations about racism in their classes, about socialism and justice, and blah, blah, blah, all those good things. 

But the second they leave that classroom, they can turn it off. They can throw away the theory. They can throw away the “-isms” and all of that and they can go back to their white circles and their white bubbles. 

[They can] go back to their white homes, and not think about people of color at all. 

But for people of color and especially Black people, in this case, that’s 100%. The second that we leave the classroom, we are a Black person on a white campus.


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Grace French is a communication major and business minor from Grand Rapids, Michigan. She loves photography, design and film production. In her free time she likes to swim, cook and spend time outside.

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