A peek into the dark side: A black perspective

Chester Toye

Chester Toye

Lehigh’s student body is only 3 percent black, according to the Lehigh Admissions website. This comes out to a whopping 152 undergraduate students out of a total of 5,054, and most white students I meet are surprised by this number.

From talking to some of my white friends, I have learned that this extremely small black population is the most exposure a lot of white students at Lehigh have ever had to African-Americans. I have many friends who have told me they have always attended schools with an almost all-white student body. I doubt the majority of these students attended these schools simply because they were devoid of black people, but regardless of their intentions, living in this white bubble can be problematic.

During this time of continuous racial conflict and protest in America, it is imperative that we all are exposed to a wide range of opinions and perspectives on these matters.

To all my white friends out there — take a second to go through your Facebook friends and count how many black friends you have. I am rather confident the number is less than you think it will be. After that, take a second to think about how many blacks in your life you would consider to be a close friend.

According to a 2013 American Values Survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, 75 percent of whites have “entirely white social networks without any minority presence.” The survey also found that in a 100-friend scenario, the average white American has only one black friend. The definition of friend for the survey was someone with whom the respondent regularly discussed important matters.

The average black American, on the other hand, has eight white friends in this scenario. Think about how often you encounter a black perspective, excluding a black perspective as told by white media.

I grew up in a 60 percent white, 30 percent black neighborhood and attended a private, all-boys, Catholic high school after freshman year. When I take into account those friends and my friends at Lehigh, I have what I consider an interesting, dynamic social circle.

A quick scroll through my Facebook news feed on any given day would shed light on a number of different perspectives on different issues taking place within our country. On numerous occasions I’ve seen Jon Stewart clips, which are more liberal than not, immediately followed by Tomi Lahren videos, which tend to be extremely conservative. This is just one example of the dramatic contrast in opinion that exists within my social network. I know this type of circle is very unlikely, but I feel blessed to have easy access to a number of different perspectives on different issues. I encourage others to seek this sort of news feed.

One of the latest racial discussions taking place in the United States right now centers on NFL football player Colin Kaepernick‘s decision to not stand during the national anthem. Kaepernick has gone on record to say that he is not standing in order to bring light to racial inequality and police brutality in the United States.

In an interview, Kaepernick stated, “This country stands for freedom, justice and liberty for all, and it’s not happening for all right now.”

Over the last week or so, my Facebook news feed has been flooded with support for Kaepernick’s protest of these important issues, and it has also been flooded with extremely aggressive criticism in addition to messages of pure hate.

I know most people have only been exposed to one side and opinion on this issue, so hopefully I can provide a bit of a new perspective and line of questioning. The largest reason for protest I have seen and heard is Kaepernick’s decision to not stand during the national anthem is disrespectful to the men and women who risk their lives overseas to fight for our freedom. I find it odd that in none of these protests have I seen any acknowledgment of the actual issues that Kaepernick is protesting.

Kaepernick has clearly stated on the record he has “great respect for the men and women who have fought for this country.” He also went on to say, “They fight for freedom. They fight for the people. They fight for liberty and justice for everyone, and that’s not happening.” I’ve also seen a ton of statuses and memes telling Kaepernick to leave this country if he is not happy with it, and also that he is “un-American” for his actions.

I want to challenge those people to take a second to reflect on a few things. First, what does the American flag and the national anthem mean to you?

Does every single American need to share this same view? What does it mean to be American? If someone is not happy with the state of our nation, should that person remain silent and not challenge it to be better? I know there is a certain presidential candidate who has based his entire campaign on the fact that America is not currently great.

Lastly, what is your definition of freedom?

I commend Kaepernick for taking a peaceful stand on an issue he believes in.

Chester Toye, ’19G, is a columnist for The Brown and White. He can be reached at [email protected].

Comment policy

Comments posted to The Brown and White website are reviewed by a moderator before being approved. Incendiary speech or harassing language, including comments targeted at individuals, may be deemed unacceptable and not published. Spam and other soliciting will also be declined.

The Brown and White also reserves the right to not publish entirely anonymous comments.


  1. Brown and White reader on

    An excellent, thought provoking article. Well done Mr. Toye!

    Please write more of these. You are right. Lehigh needs to do better on diversity. It leads to more informed discussion and opinions.

  2. Thank you to Mr. Toye for writing this important article. You’re right, we need to talk (and do) more here at Lehigh about racial inequality. I hope to see more writing about this from Mr. Toye and others on the Brown and White.

Leave A Reply