From David: Black Magic

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David Owolabi

If you take the time to get to know the people of color at Lehigh, you’ll find some of the most impressive individuals that our school has to offer.

Students, staff and faculty of color enrich our campus in thought and experience. We are free thinkers, artists, engineers, dedicated employees and involved community members.

No two of us are the same.

The one thing we have in common is that we are here to make an impact.

There are no diversity pawns here, simply a driven group of individuals doing great work.

Take Michaela Lewis, ‘21; Krystin White, ‘20; Massiel Checo, ‘20; Kyra Jenkins-Hunter, ‘20 and Michael Osei, ‘21. Just last year, this group of students unsatisfied with Lehigh’s club offerings, set out to start their own club.

These students went on to found My Natural Crown, a space for people of all backgrounds to discuss topics related to maintaining and appreciating one’s natural hair and whatever form it may come in.

Kevelis Matthews-Alvarado, ’20, and Laura DeFelice, ’19, created a confidential coming out support group for Lehigh students and also lead a multitude of other Pride center initiatives. The work they do helps lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, trans, asexual and or questioning students at Lehigh feel more comfortable on campus.

Every fall, Black Student Union and Asian Cultural Society cosponsor Fusion, which celebrates the many talented dancers at Lehigh, and the cultures they hail from. Fusion brings our school together through our shared appreciation of dance and it’s one of Lehigh’s largest student organized events.

Excellence doesn’t stop at the students of color.

Lamar Johnson is an employee at Lehigh who has been serving up smiles for 10 years as a member of the Lehigh dining team.

Truthfully, I don’t remember the first time I met Lamar, that’s how much of a constant he’s been during my Lehigh career. My first memories of Lamar are from my dinners spent at Rathbone during my freshman year.

Every night an employee on the Rathbone staff made a point to wish me and numerous other students goodnight with a warm smile as he helped us collect our plates.

As the year continued, Lamar and I began to trade banter about current events in sports, and life in general. This story isn’t unique to just me. I’ve seen him go above an beyond his job description in an effort to connect with Lehigh students.

From the beginning, Lamar made himself available to me and all the students who ate at Rathbone.

As my year progressed I eventually grew to look forward to his larger than life smile and sports banter every time I ate at Rathbone.

Seeing his warm smile all those nights helped Lehigh feel a little more like home for me and many other students. Time has passed and things are a little different. Lamar works in Upper Cort now, but what hasn’t changed is his commitment to doing his job to the best of his ability all with a smile on his face.

Aarsenio Perry, assistant director of student engagement, is one of Lehigh’s most connected administrators. Aarsenio works closely with students everyday. It’s his job. However, anyone who knows him can see that what he does is more than just a job to him.

Aarsenio brings his passion for people to work with him everyday.

For anyone lucky enough to end up in Aarsenio’s space you can attest to the fact he cares. He’ll tease you and make jokes with you any day guaranteed, but he’s also there if you need to have a candid conversation. In my time at Lehigh I’ve been inspired by how much Aarsenio has made an effort to connect with me and so many others. He cares about people and makes an effort to show that.

There are simply too many other people of color doing great things at Lehigh for me to name them all in one column. I haven’t named all the amazing people of color at Lehigh. Just a few.

At the moment our community is reeling. We are amidst a scandal involving our administration’s inability to be fair and transparent.

As this situation continues to play out, we will continue to work to right the wrongs caused and strive to make our campus a more equitable place for all.

Lehigh’s community of color is a strong one. We are much greater than a scandal.

As we navigate through this tough time it’s important that we acknowledge all the good work being done by so many.

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