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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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New organization fights misconceptions about minority groups

Photo by Cassie Stricker

The goal of Teaching Everyone African American Culture and History is to celebrate diversity. 

A new organization on campus has developed a mission to combat misconceptions of minorities and to make minority students feel more welcome.
TEAACH, or Teaching Everyone African American Culture and History, is an organization which aims to teach everyone about the history and current cultures of minority groups as well as mentor high school minority students to prepare them for college. It is the vision of philosophy sophomore Krystal Parks, who was inspired to make a difference for minorities on campus when she noticed a lack of minority groups on campus tours. The organization began at the beginning of the spring 2017 semester.
“I know I’m attending a predominantly white university, so I have to be aware that [racial uniformity is] going to happen,” Parks said. “But then I realized in the number of whites that are on campus or in general that go to A&M how many of them actually know about our history? It’s only a small percentage of us, so do they actually know who we are and what we do outside the stereotypes they have learned about?”
Shortly after Parks noticed campus tours are predominantly white, in February of 2016, some visiting high school students from Dallas were reportedly victims of racial slurs on campus. This incident drove Parks to take action and start TEAACH.
“At the time I was taking hip-hop philosophy, so I was learning a lot about race and about social constructs and stuff like that,” Parks said. “I just really felt like I needed to do something. I felt like it was wrong for me to just sit there with the feeling that I had and not do anything with it.”
TEAACH will meet every Tuesday for an hour and 10 minutes to provide students with a safe place to talk about their feelings, perceptions and concerns about race. The meetings will typically start with a short lecture and will then open up to a group discussion.
Paige Williams is the TEAACH treasurer, and said she hopes the creation of TEAACH will bring awareness to differences in how minorities are treated.
“I’m hoping that people will learn how we are treated, in a sense, differently,” Williams said. “We are becoming a statistic. We get looked at differently as a whole, and I just don’t think it’s right. People think, ‘Oh, black girl coming in late, typical.’ We have to try harder to prove that we can do this, too. We can graduate from this school, too.”
Topics discussed at meetings will include the history of African Americans at Texas A&M, how African Americans feel when asked if someone can touch their hair and perceptions of light skin versus dark skin in every culture. While the topics are centrally focused on African American culture, TEAACH secretary Daiza Burleson said she hopes the topics can apply to all groups.
“I want people who are different to know it’s okay to be different,” Burleson said. “We are all different because we all have different backgrounds and cultures and skin tones, but it is important to know that there is value in being who you are.”
TEAACH will also conduct a service project in which TEAACH members serve as mentors to students in underserved high schools. Burleson said the service project is just as important as the discussions hosted by TEAACH.
“It means a lot to me because I’ve been through what they are going through,” Burleson said. “It’s important that they know they do matter.”
According to parks, the officers of TEAACH hope to have a successful first semester with the organization and want everyone to feel welcome.
“There are no qualifications,” Parks said. “It’s open for everyone. What I want to hold back from is making people think that because African American is in the name that’s the only people that can come and join us.”

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