Interview Length: 51 minutes and 22 seconds
Aaisha Haykal (AH): So, we are now on record. Just want to get your name on the recording, can you say your name and spell it?
Sara Daise (SD): Full name?
SD: Sara Makeba Daise. S-A-R-A M-A-K-E-B-A D-A-I-S-E
AH: And lets gets some background information about you. When were you born?
SD: October 4, 1989. I was born in Bamburg, SC but I was raised in Beaufort, South Carolina
AH: Beaufort, SC? And you were raised by your parents?
SD: Ron and Natalie.
AH: Have any siblings?
SD: I have a younger brother Simeon and he going to be nineteen in ten days.
AH: Wow, okay. And does he live in Beaufort?
SD: No actually, he lives with my father in Pawley’s Island, who commutes. He works on Pawley’s Island and at Brookgreen Gardens. My brother graduated last year from Beaufort high school and he lives on Pawley’s Island with my dad.
AH: And your mom lives on Pawley’s Island?
SD: She lives in Beaufort.
AH: Beaufort, oh okay.
SD: Yeah, they go back and forth every weekend.
AH: Occupations of your parents?
SD: Ah, my parents are performers and educators. For the large part of my early life they starred in a television show called Gullah, Gullah Island, which was on Nick Jr. [Nickelodeon Jr.] and now my father is the vice president for creative education at Brookgreen Gardens and my mother works Environments, Inc., which is an educational tool for early childhood education and I think they help with classroom design and tools that help your students grow and read and certain types of toys for the betterment of the development of children.
AH: And that is your mother?
SD: Yeah, that is my mother. They both perform and sing
AH: And how long have they been doing that? Since you were born, since you can remember?
SD: Yes, since I was born and before.
AH: Since you were born.
AH: And you mentioned that your parents had Gullah, Gullah Island a TV show, were you a part of that?
SD: I was. I was on it, I was not a regular character. I was a neighbor, but my parents and my younger brother were regulars they starred on the show. I was very shy as a child and I was not on there and I also was very sick. So if I had not been shy, they probably still wouldn’t have cast me because there was a 50% chance that I would live. So I couldn’t just be a regular cast and then just die.
SD: Well if you just look it up you can find me on a few of them. I was really shy as a child.
AH: Well, I am glad you are still here.
SD: Me too.
AH: Ah, so you grew up in Beaufort, was that a predominately African American community or was it integrated? Can you talk a little about that?
SD: I think that it is pretty integrated, but it all about what you choose to see. We lived in a few different houses and they were pretty integrated neighborhoods that I lived in. In the schools that I went in were very much integrated. I know that when I talk to some people who went to schools that were majority Black or majority White. The high school I graduated from was very mixed with a very large group of Black and White people. I think that in Beaufort there is a large presence, but I think that there is a large mix as well, both Black and White.
AH: So you went to different schools (elementary, middle, and high)?
AH: They were separate schools?
AH: Okay. And did you stay with the same kind of people or did you meet new people at each school?
SD: I did I mostly stayed with the same people, except for elementary school. During elementary school my parents were filming, so a large part of the year we would leave and go to Florida to film. But, I went to a Montessori School, which is different curriculum and different group of friends. Although I was shy and didn’t like being in front of people I had a crazy personality and a different group of friends. I had a Norwegian best friend, a French best friend, a best friend with a Black girl and with a White girl. After I moved into public school in Beaufort, is when I started sort of going in the direction of having mostly Black friends and that stayed pretty much the same throughout high school.
AH: So you had mostly Black friends in High School?
AH: Was that because the demographic of the high school changed or did you consciously choose?
SD: Ah, I don’t know. The demographics did obviously change. I went from a Montessorial school, very open minded people and public school you have peer pressure and you want to fit in. I think that some part of it was conscious and in watching the movie [Woke Up Black], one girl [Morgan] talked about being raised to speak articulately and present yourself in a certain way and to be confident and that is how I was raised as well. My parents are extremely articulate, but uh, I wanted to fit in and I wanted to fit in with the Black crowd and so the things that I was interested in sort of changed. I did marching band and choir and even in choir that was like a mix, there were not a lot of Black kids in choir, but those were the people I surrounded myself with. I think originally there was a conscious decision because I wanted to fit in with that group, but even now in college I don’t think that I make a conscious decision to do it, but most of my friends are Black.
AH: Did your parents put any kind of pressure on you to have a certain kind of friends and with a Gullah, Gullah Island, was there more emphasis on having more appreciation of your heritage, of Black Gullah South Carolina heritage than other people might have if they had different parents?
SD: I think that definitely I was brought up to have an appreciation of culture to have an appreciation of heritage and my background and to take pride in who I was and how I presented myself so if I can say anything about the types of friends they wanted me to have friends who made good decisions who knew the difference between right and wrong and who represented them and their families well. And that did not necessarily mean having Black friends or White friends. My parents wanted me to be color blind and that is what they would have liked, but so if there was a group they wanted me to be around they would be those who were doing what they supposed to do and stay out of trouble
SD: Whatever, they could have been green, if that is who they be that is who they be.
AH: So, did you enjoy high school, did you have good teachers? You were in marching band and you got good grades and things like that?
SD: I would never go back. I know that some people loved high school. I did learn and I did enjoy it. I did marching band I was in color guard my senior year, I was color guard captain. I enjoyed choir as well. I had a some good teachers some not so great, uh freshmen year was really tough for me because I wasn’t ready for high school so for tenth grade I had to pull it together, buckle down and get my work done and I excelled. I got to meet different people. I was not in the honors program, but I took some AP [Advanced Placement] classes, but I could never be in the AP program because math and science are not my thing, so that would just be horrible. So, one of the things that is interesting is that in my honors classes that I did take the Black kids from marching band and choir were in those classes. There would be three or four of us in those honor classes. If I wanted to get to know the rest of the Black population I met them in my CP classes.
AH: CP classes?
SD: College Prep
AH: College Prep, okay
SD: It is interesting to see that in most of the schools, college prep, oh that good, but at Beaufort High College Prep, college prep does not prepare you for college.
AH: Laugh. Okay, okay. So in your high school, in Beaufort there was a division between Black and White kids and they were tracked differently?
SD: Definitely, like I said in the honors classes I did take, like English and History, and Government, there would be about three or four or five of us. It was always the same ones and we were also the ones who did extracurricular like marching band, or choir; athletes not so much in the honor classes. I mean there were a few who acted like they were not dumb, but not much. It was mostly those in student government
AH: Can you remember any other racial divisions, or conflicts that you can think of in elementary, middle, or high school?
SD: Beaufort is an island, a series of islands, St. Helena Island, Lady’s Island, and everything is connected by a bridge so there are turf wars in Beaufort. Ah, Beaufort County is one side of the bridge and Lady’s Island is on the other and they do not like each other.
SD: These are Black people and of course we are all related so, so all of my cousins live on the other side of the bridge, but that was a huge division. There were several fights in high school and my daddy went to Beaufort High School as well and that stuff was going on when he was in high school, you know. You don’t like the people because they live in this side of the bridge. You have people who rep Island you have people who rep Beaufort. I remember there was a gigantic fight in the gym a huge battle with like mace and the different football games we went to the police would be on watch because people would come and fight just because of where you lived.
AH: What year is this?
SD: I graduated in 2007, but this happened throughout my four years of high school and my daddy, I cannot remember the year he graduated from high school, but it has been going on since then.
AH: Is it based on historical facts or anything?
SD: I don’t think it is, I don’t think it is. I don’t know the historical background. Beaufort High used to be in Beaufort County, but now it is just off the bridge when you get into Lady’s Island. And I think now the way they draw the lines is different for who goes to that school and who goes to our rival school, which is Battle Creek, which is on another island and over another bridge and they have their own turf wars over there too. But I am not sure of the historical background, but they take it very seriously. Like I remember going to some games and being scared because you knew that someone was going to fight not for anything reason other than maybe my sister was talking to a dude who lives in Beaufort and we don’t like them.
AH: Like West Side Story.
AH: But within the race.
SD: Right, ridiculous.
AH: Okay, I wanted to talk a little bit about your college experiences. How did you choose to come to the College of Charleston?
SD: College of Charleston was the first school that I was accepted to and I don’t know why I applied. I think just going into the guidance counselors’ office and looking at schools in-state and my number one choice was Hampton University, that was where my daddy went and that is where I wanted to go, I wanted to go to an HBCU [Historically Black Colleges and Universities] and study communications and I got in, but um it was just too much money-it was out-of-state and private. So it just cost too much, and my mom around June/July, so said let’s look at the College of Charleston, you know they are actively recruiting minority students, let’s go the campus and see if you like it, so all that stuff took place very late. And I after I thought about it, I took a look at the brochures and thought, there are no Black people here. I was going on Facebook trying to find out where the Black people were at the College of Charleston and not like it was a huge, not that I cannot people who are not Black, but I wanted to have that level of comfort of having people who look like me, people who may have similar characteristics, similar tastes and I liked it. I have had a good experience. I had some setbacks, but they were not necessarily due to college-the College of Charleston as much as was family stuff and stuff that happened while I was in college.
AH: Right, Right. You said that you wanted to go to an HBCU, did your fellow, did your high school friends felt the same way about HBCUs or did they?
SD: I had a few, one of my best friends went to Morehouse and a lot of my friends went to South Carolina State and um, some went to USC [University of South Carolina]. Everyone liked the idea of going to an HBCU [cannot understand] in my group of friends from high school, we were all ambitious, we all had things that we wanted to do. Now, some of my friends that went to State as freshmen in college are not there.
AH: They are back in Beaufort?
AH: Okay, Working or?
AH: With this recession you never know, even people with college degrees don’t really have jobs. Laugh.
AH: So your freshmen year, what was your first day/moving in like?
SD: I came, because I decided so late to come I had to go to the last orientation. You know usually you go to orientation over the summer and get the info and then you go back home. But my orientation was the last session so I moved in during orientation and I met my RA [Resident Advisor], who was really nice and very friendly and my roommate was not there at the time and she was from Charleston so that was why I had to meet her later. I cannot remember the first day of classes, but I remember that there were things that I wanted to do. I took African Dance, I did Gospel Choir, I went to Black Student Union because it was really important to me to see Black people and to find that community. I got…kept good grades had like a 3.0 [grade point average] freshmen year and I was also really into church freshmen year. I found a church group on campus, and I was really into that.
AH: Name of the church group?
SD: It was called Spoken Word.
AH: Oh, okay.
SD: It is no more.
AH: It is no more.
SD: No, it was not affiliated with the college, which should have been a tell-tale sign right there, that was not the thing to do.
SD: But I was really involved and made some good friends in doing that and uh then the group just fell apart. My freshmen year I would say was good.
AH: Did you? Were you previously religious before you came to campus?
SD: I grew up around religion. My father is Baptist and my mother grew up Seventh Day Adventist, although she is not Seventh Day Adventist anymore. A lot of time when my parents used to travel and perform we, my brother and I, would stay with different family members often with my great-aunt, Auntie Dee, and because we would stay with my Auntie Dee she is Seventh Day Adventist, that is my Mother’s aunt, we would have to go to church with her on Saturdays. So I grew up in that church community. But my daddy wanted me, us, to have his background as well, so we would go to church on Sunday too, so we would just be in church all weekend, but I did, I grew up with a very spiritual background and I wanted to come to school and I wanted to find a church family I thought that it would be very important for me to stay focused and to stay out of trouble and to just be on a good track. So, it was very important and I sought that out when I got here.
AH: So have you found that?
AH: So you are still more affiliated with your church back home in Beaufort or?
SD: We are not really affiliated with a church in Beaufort because my dad and mom do not live together. For a long time we went to Brick Baptist Church, which is the church my daddy grew up in on St. Helena Island, we left that church and we went to a non-denominational church for a long time, very large, predominately White. Toward the end of high school. I would say that my father is religious and my mother is spiritual. When my daddy started working at Brookgreen Gardens my tenth grade year and he would come back on home on weekends and toward the end of high school we would still be in a non-denominational church that was mostly White and uh toward the end of high school we stopped going there. And so now when my parents are in Beaufort they might go to church in Savannah or if they are in Pawley’s Island they might go to a church up there. There is no place where we are affiliated with, so that when I go home whether it be in Beaufort or Pawley’s Island there is not a set place where we go.
AH: Oh, okay. how do you think that religion or spirituality has helped you in your college career of just in life in general?
SD: I think that it is extremely, extremely important. My daddy always to say that whether I or acknowledge or not recognize it or not. Growing up all of my friends went to church because we had to go to church, our parents went to church and I don’t think that we took it personally. Just being in college, I think that it is so important to have some type of spiritual grounding or commitment or some understanding of your purpose or why you are here or what morals that you live by. I remember having a conversation with a friend and she was saying that she did not really believe in marriage or fidelity because you cannot really expect to be the one person that another person needs for the rest of their life. I just thought that was real weird that she felt that way because I was like that’s crazy of course you are supposed to be with one person for the rest of your life because of my spiritual background and I really do believe that there was one person that was created for you, but I beliefs that because of my spiritual background not because logically it does not make sense. So I think that spirituality at least for me is just trying to be grounded and living in regards to peer pressure and trying to keep a focus on a set of beliefs [unintelligible]
AH: So, have there been any conflicts between what your spiritual beliefs have told you and what you have seen in the real world?
SD: I think that there are a lot of conflicts. I have not had the opportunity to read the entire Bible, but I can quote scripture from it that I believe but, being not just in college, but growing up with premarital sex and homosexuality or and just killing. Anything that goes against what my religion says is right. I should take back killing, I think that is something that is just bad. But, premarital sex is definitely, something that is difficult to comprehend for people who are at least trying to live at least a Christian lifestyle [unintelligible] Being able to live and make your own guidelines…I think is extremely difficult, to live in this world and to live by any type of religious standard. So, you can make your own standards, but then is that legitimate? Is that not practicing what I say I believe? I think that human beings are so complex and there are set rules in the Bible or whatever and what you choose to practice did not keep in mind that humans are complex and I think that is a challenge definitely. And you have friends, everybody says that they are a Christian and does not exactly act how you would think that a Christian should act like. I mean I consider myself a Christian and there are people who would look at me and say you do not this and you do that
AH: Yeah, people don’t necessarily allow for the gray in religion, the gray in behavior they say one thing and practice one thing and yet they still proclaim affinity to this religious group and see how your lens colors what you are thinking. It is very difficult. I am Muslim, but it is very hard for people say there are extreme Muslim and you have your Muslims, the people that you know and it does not always compute. And you have to understand how there are differences in people and that they believe different things.
AH: In an earlier question you kind of referred to the aspect of one partner or finding the one, have you found that, have you found the one or has it been difficult finding a person to connect with at the College or in general?
SD: No, I have not. I am single. I have been single for three years. I always say that it is difficult to find a partner at a college because one ideally I would like to be with a Black man. Obviously the Black man population is very low at the College of Charleston and also there are a lot of gay Black men at the College of Charleston.
AH: Black gay men at the College of Charleston?
SD: Yes, maybe not so much now, that I am a fifth year senior and I am looking at the classes that are coming in and it seems like there are more straight males and more males than I can recall being here when I was freshmen, but yeah I think that it is extremely difficult. One because as a male you have so many options; I remember my freshmen year the ratio was ah 6:1 females to males so they can do whatever they want they have so many choices. They have so many choices. So, yeah that made it extremely difficult. And know I came to a point where I am not really looking anymore. I know that I am young, sometimes I feel lonely of course, but because a lot of my peers are in relationships, but I just got to get me together.
AH: So, from your perspective there is not really a push to get married or to have a commitment from your friends?
SD: A lot of them are getting married
AH: Getting married
SD: Or are in committed relationships. I do not think it is a push, I do not feel pressure to do it. But I would say that this is the first time that I have been so aware of my singleness, because it seems like so many people at least my friends, but it is not a push or any type of pressure that you should be doing this, but I feel most people I look at who are getting married at this age, I am like: Why are you doing that? And it may be my, I have justify me being single, but I am like you have not met half the people you are going to meet in your life are going anywhere, why are doing that? But you know if I was all in love and stuff then maybe I would feel different.
AH: Right, right. I mean people, every six months there is an article about single Black woman and phenomenon of Black woman cannot get married, that kind of thing and sometimes it feels like you have to choose between your career and a relationship and it is very difficult.
SD: I don’t want to have to choose. I have a lot of cousins and out of the top of my head I think of three of them who are pursuing Master’s and Doctorate and they are not in long term relationships, but they are focused and I do not want to be almost thirty and by myself. I don’t want to have to be a choice, but you know it is not the worst thing to be professional and to have my stuff together and have myself established. I would love to meet someone on the way there, so we can work on establishing those things together.
SD: I don’t know what is going to happen.
AH: Indeed, Indeed. Speaking of career, what is your, you said that you majoring in communications? Correct
AH: What is your career path or journey that you hope to establish?
SD: Well, I always loved to write, right now I am interning with a magazine called Living Roots, out of Charleston, but since last year, well I also wanted to mentor young women, that is something that have wanted to do since high school, and last year I worked with the Upward Bound, TRIO program and I worked at Wings for Kids.
AH: Wings for Kids?
SD: Wings for Kids, it is a program in local elementary schools where we teach social and emotional skills to young people. So that, I love working with young people, and I have worked with second grade through twelfth grade and I had so much fun. If I could make a living doing that, that is what I would do. I still like to write, and sometimes I say that I want to go into education administration. One of my mentors, Mr. Leroy Lewis, he is over the Upward Bound program, and he is like a father for a lot of the students. And I don’t know if I necessarily want to be director. I mean I guess I do, but I got to work as a counselor and got to work right with the kids and that was so fun, it might be because I am still young and it might be as I get older, the older I get it might make more sense to have a larger leadership role. I love being in mentoring programs, I want to do something like that.
AH: Okay, you say that you were involved in the Upward Bound program, here at the College can you talk about Upward Bound for those who don’t know, who are not aware of that program?
SD: Upward Bound is a pre-college program, mostly for first generation low-income students, so those students whose parents didn’t get, go to college, every student in there is not first-generation, I know some people, who have parents that went two years that got their associates so they are still considered first generation and some parents did not. And just allowing, mentoring and tutoring and expanding their horizons and taking them on college tours and they have bi-monthly Saturday sessions where they come in and get extra help in Math and Science and English and Foreign Language, we took them on a tour of Avery [Research Center for African American History and Culture] last summer when I was counselor and they go on college tours three times a year and over the summer I chaperoned and we went to Miami and Orlando and looked at three schools I believe, they take a trip to Costa Rica, it is just exposing these kids to things they wouldn’t otherwise. There is also a parent component for the parents who are as involved as they choose to be, teaching them networking, teaching them how to represent themselves better and their children, opening doors for them. And I am so in love with that program and the kids are so much fun to me.
AH: I was a part of the Upward Bound program back home, I mean I was a recipient of the counselors and was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I went there for four years [really was five] and Mom could really tell the change in me from being a shy person and not really engaging with other people
AH: To being, not necessarily outgoing, but being more forthright with my opinions and what I wanted to do. It is amazing you know, being away and being exposed to different cities and cultures and just being away from home you can really enlighten a student’s life.
AH: And that is great.
AH: I was reading in the paper about Trayvon Martin and I saw that you helped to spearhead a rally here in Charleston at the College. Can you just talk about what inspired you about that rally are there other kinds of rallies you have done in the past?
SD: When I first heard about it. It made me think of Jena 6 and the College actually took about sixteen or seventeen students to that rally and I was able to go to that. I think that was my first view of a rally or demonstration of a group of people coming together. I mean you read about it in history books, but that was my first time being a part. I was so sad when I read about it, I read about it first on Twitter, and I immediately thought of my little brother and I was just heartbroken and I talked to a graduate of the College who works in the ROAR Office [stands for Reach - Overcome - Achieve Results] and I was saying that we got to do something, we got to do something, we cannot not do something! But I wanted somebody to do something so that I could go
SD: And she was like, these are the people that you need to talk to, so she went with me and we went to go to the people in OID
SD: Office of Institutional Diversity on campus, and we put it together and there were students who helped and Diversity Ambassadors through OID, who assisted us with planning and organizing and different people from different student groups came together. And I was really happy to see it done, it did not necessarily get the publicity that I wanted, but a good bit of people showed up, people from the community showed up as well. And two days prior I attended the rallies in Marion Square. The first day we went out a few people were talking. I think that a student from Charleston Southern organized that and other College of Charleston student who was affiliated with Occupy Charleston put those two together. The second day we met in Marion Square and marched, I don’t want to say the wrong place that we marched, I think that it is called Memorial Park?
AH: On Columbus or on?
SD: [Shaking head and pointing southwest] Over there, we marched down Meeting Street, and then turned on Broad [St.] and there is a park off of Broad with the think that looks like the Lincoln memorial inside and that was very powerful and it was people from the community, majority Black, parents, and young people a lot of College of Charleston students showed up. It was so inspiring. They brought all of these little kids up front and one of the College of Charleston student, who was in the military, but I am not sure what service, but she put on her uniform and just to assist with the march and so when we were crossing the street, she would just stand in the street and cars recognized her as a servicewoman and obviously she was not acting on behalf of the government, but they recognized her and they respected the line and people were chanting, I am Trayvon! And she started talking about how this is the type of stuff that she fights for in fighting for equality and justice and I was all teary eyed and crying. But, when we did it on campus, it had to be really structured, because we were representing the College and we did not want to say anything that would rub anyone the wrong way. We had a lot of students attend and students spoke about how they felt and some faculty members Dr. [Consuela] Francis, and Dr. [Bernard] Powers, and Dot Scott came the President of the Charleston Chapter of the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] and different administrators spoke. I was just really happy to see it all come together and see how people felt and where they want to go from there. And so, it was really nice to see it all come together, I know that my biggest concern is what is next because it is so frustrating and so sad, and I am on Twitter a lot and so I am just reading the different things like, Black people just get mad about something for six weeks and then they don’t care anymore and nobody says anything about the Black on Black crime that is going on, well a Black person shot and killed six White people in the street and nobody is talking about that and then of course Kony 2012 just a few weeks before I heard about that and so it was sad, I just wanted people to. I just want to solve all of the problems and I wish that there was just a little switch where all of the problems would be solved. So it is hard, I want to decide where to direct your focus because obviously there are a greater problem, but I think that it is necessary to focus on something and work really hard to make that better.
AH: So you haven’t, obviously there are so many issues to cover, but you haven’t chosen one to confront?
SD: It is hard, but I think that one issue that really caught my attention, just the talk about Black on Black violence and how so much, so many Black youth are killed and that you don’t even think about it. I was talking to my mom, you don’t think about it, just the things you hear and it is second nature. I remember people who were shot and killed while I was in high school, I remember the summer between my freshmen and sophomore year of college, when I came back to Beaufort, there were seven shootings in Beaufort, people getting shot at parties. You didn’t want to go the club in Beaufort because you might get shot. My high school graduation party, it was not mine, but it was where all of went at after graduation, was at a hotel--an Island/Beaufort fight just broke out; people who had graduated long before us had-two or three years before us, the police was there, people were getting maced, somebody got cut and that stuff is so ridiculous, but it is second nature and it is not that surprising to hear about Black on Black violence and I wonder what would make that less common? So that it wasn’t, you know you expect that and of course when you hear about Black on Black violence it is not making the news necessarily, because of course Black people are killing each other, but why?
AH: Yeah, right.
SD: I think that that is a problem.
AH: Yeah, I mean I come from a rural county, but Buffalo [New York] is the next town up from me and there is always crime and always someone got shot on Grider and Bailey, or something and there is something and it is yeah, okay. You just get so used to it and it should not be something that is normalized, it shouldn’t be normal to hear about, Black youth getting gunned down and you think that is not just the economy, it might partly be because of economy, but way before the economy broke down there was issues with Black on Black crime. I just don’t know and it is hard and as Black women we are, our Black boys, brothers are and possible husbands are being gunned down before they even get a chance to meet us. And then we wonder why, there are so many teen pregnancies happening, and then their baby daddies, it is just too much.
AH: I just want to talk about being a leader on the campus, so you are a leader in Black Student Union are there any other leadership positions, that you have taken on at the College and are you trying to groom the next group of Black women who come into the College?
SD: I have been involved in BSU for a long time, my sophomore year I joined the executive board and I was real shy and I was real timid and I, one of my mentors then, she does not work at the College anymore, but when elections came around she told me that I need to get a bigger role and bigger position because I was trying to do secretary and she is like, no you are going to be Vice-President, so that is what I did, pushing me into that position and I am glad because I always want to be a leader and I want to guide others and I want to inspire. Even in High School people always came to me for direction or I had leadership positions in those roles, but, it was really important for me to do that here. And I also worked in Residence Life so, one thing that I appreciate about that is, if you only work in a certain sector only those people get to know you, but working in Residence Life you get to meet a very diverse group of people so it was not just Black students who came to me because of this and that, but all types of students you know had issues, I was one of the people that they could come to and I really appreciate that outlet. I do try to encourage you know the next group that is going to come about, I have been in other a few mentoring positions on campus and don’t necessarily try to come at them from the position of a leader, I know that is how a lot of people see me, but I just try to be a friend and just talk about where I came from and how necessary it is to let your voice be heard and move up and also try to explain that I was not, that I was very shy and had she not, my mentor, not push me into that position, I don’t know if or when I would have taken it. From first Vice-President and then I became President and I am glad I did, and I think that it is necessary for people to recognize that they don’t necessarily have to be leadership positions to be leaders, so I hope that I, I get that across to people.
AH: What kinds of events were put on by BSU through your reign?
SD: We had a diversity talent show, um we had a lot of different people come and perform, we had belly dancers, and singers, and guitar players and we had a few open mikes and battles of the classes. I think that the Trayvon Martin demonstration that we recently had, which was not all Black Student Union was a combination of student groups was the most socially conscious events that we have had because it is a struggle since I have been executive board member to tailor events that one wants to make people come, because also you want to have the right balance between parties and things that people can actually benefit from and so we have had different, we have general body meetings where everyone is welcome and we talk about a certain issue or we have a panel we also had a leadership panel, my father spoke and we had a few administrators from campus spoke and community leaders and students were able to ask them questions. We have collaborated with the Gay Straight Alliance and they came and spoke to us about different terms, terminology that we were not familiar with. We had former, we had Malcolm X’s former bodyguards, came to spoke to us one year and that was real exciting and nice to hear. So, we had a lot of good programs, but like I was telling you earlier, we do not have a record of it, so it is like; remember that one time we did that? It was real good.
AH: Right. So has there been blowback or issues with people asking why do we have a Black Student Union on campus, is there a need for one, has there been any kind of conversation on campus about the existence of this organization?
SD: Since I have been here, definitely. I think that people always recognize that there is a need, but there are some Black people who don’t want to be affiliated with Black Student Union, I guess because they feel that the views of Black Student Union are not reflective of them or goals that they want to be associated with. I have never heard of anything, the most I have heard from people who are not Black, is that I would like to go to Black Student Union, but I didn’t think that I could go because I wasn’t Black. I never heard of anything negative from people who are not Black, surprisingly. Definitely from people who are, they don’t think that we are doing enough or that we don’t represent people the way that we should or we are not diverse enough and that we only do Black things, I definitely heard that. We are also under the umbrella of the Multi-Cultural Center, Multi-Cultural Programs and Services, that is the umbrella that the organization is under, but we are not, but we do not have a BSU head that is a faculty or administrator that is just BSU and I say that because we have done collaborations with the Jewish, Jewish Student Union and they are under the Jewish Student Center and one of the things that we talked about when we met them and the administration that works with them is that is they actively recruit Jewish students and they stay on those students when they get there, and as a Black student there are definitely resources for us, but they are not under one umbrella that we can, that we just know to come to. We have a program called SPECTRA, which is basically a pre-college program, you come in after your senior year in high school and you get some college credits and you get acclimated to college life and it is mostly Black students, there are some other minority students as well, but when you come into college in August, you already know a lot of people, your friends, and you know different resources and the different places that you can go to. And I was not a SPECTRA student and one of the hugest problems of the Black community since I have been in here is the division between SPECTRA and non-SPECTRA and being a Black student when you come in, there these group of people who are already friends and they already know a lot of resources and people to turn to and if you are not a SPECTRA student you do not and there are different places that you go, I went to Black Student Union to meet Black people, but there are resources that I was finding out last year that I just didn’t know and I didn’t know how to reach those people in a way that other minority groups like the Jewish Student Union seek you out and you know that you have that family once you get there, and that is not necessarily here at the College.
AH: Is there any talk about merging, or having it under the AAS program, the African American Studies Program?
SD: Not Black Student Union, but, I am not sure I am supposed to quoted in saying this, but we have different resources, but. They do not work together. So, African American Studies Department is very active and very helpful for Black Student Union and Black Students in general, or rather students in general, MSPS is also extremely helpful. Mr. Lewis, who works with Upward Bound, he has been very present in Black Student Union as well and there are other faculty and administrators who have been present and who have been helpful. But, the way that one student brought it up, last week, is that there are a lot of, there are all of these people and they want the students to do great, but they want to be acknowledged, they want credit for that student doing great, so there is no big, how shall I say it, I am at a loss for words, no structure just for us where we can all work together and climb up together because the people in charge bump heads because they want credit or acknowledgement for the success of this student, which is not the way that I had looked at. It more seems as there are different faculty and administrators cannot get along. But Black Student Union, I don’t know what is in the future for Black Student Union, I hope something good.
AH: Just few more questions before we wrap it up, as you are graduating are you planning on staying in Carolina, in the South, or are you looking to go elsewhere for job opportunities?
SD: Right now I am applying for jobs in Charleston; I want to stay here for at least a year. My dream college is UC Berkley, I want to study Africana Studies there, I want to live elsewhere, but I also want to come back because I think that if I am honest and truthful with myself about what I want to do, which is, that is to inspire and motivate and mobilize the Black community and mobilize Black youth that I cannot just turn my back on the South, although sometimes living here, this is so devastating and I always think that the problem is people who are open minded people who are optimistic people who can make a change we say that we cannot stay in the South, we have to leave, but if we all leave then it will stay like this or if we all leave and never come back. So I want to come back eventually.
AH: Could you just expand on what you mean about it is devastating to live in the South?
SD: I was writing a paper in my speech class last semester about nutrition, in South Carolina, or rather just the effect of nutrition on development on cognitive development and such and I, one of my sources said that the national report card put South Carolina at the bottom, so it used to be, that we could say, that at least we are ahead of Mississippi, but we are not, we are not the bottom, when I was talking to my mother about Trayvon Martin, she said that she read another study that said that South Carolina ranks 49th, with 50 being the highest in most confrontational state, which goes hand in hand, if we are the most, if we are the dumbest of course we are confrontational. And it is harsh to say, but just talking to anybody it is so bad and I think that there are so many people who are so closed minded and I cannot honestly say that I know how to make it better. I always heard that you have to be the change you want to see and I definitely heard that working with education and working with young people, you won’t even get to see the impact that you have you just have trust that you had an impact and so I am sure that I won’t just be able to look up and see that everything is great now, but I think that there are so many problems in the South that don’t have to be and I think that is what is most devastating, just closed minded people. People who do not want to look at the complexities of human it does not just have to be black and white people are just gray. And growing up in Beaufort and seeing people who never made it out and I use the term never made it out because that is what I want to do, but some people don’t even feel like that, they want to be there forever, and that is not necessarily bad, but some people just don’t have any ambition, don’t have anything greater that they want to see. They do not know anything outside of Beaufort and I know that it is similar for people who grew up in Charleston, they do not know that the world is bigger nor do they have any desire to see the bigger world and that is probably a problem everywhere, but because this is where I grew up, I am aware of it.
AH: This is a wrap up question, why did you choose to participate in this project, the Black in the Lowcountry project, is there any particular reason, just to share your story do you think that is something people can learn from and think about?
SD: I think that being Black and from the Lowcountry makes me very unique and I want that story to be told, I want people to know that youth, that Black youth are not apathetic and that we don’t just not care and that there are things that we want to see done and we have ambitions and dreams just like the next person and I’m also because I grew up in Beaufort and my father is from St. Helena’s Island I am extremely aware of my Gullah heritage and culture, it is something that I am very proud of and as much recognition that I can bring to that in any way I will do that. I used to work at Avery, I remember giving a tour and we got to the rice culture section talking about the Gullah culture and this woman I don’t remember where she was from, she said, so, what are the Gullah people doing now, you know, do they come out? Well, I go the College of Charleston! They have this off the wall view, but I want people to know and I am extremely proud Black woman, I am extremely proud Gullah woman, but I also a woman and a person, so that is why I wanted to be a part of this project and I wanted it to be documented and I thought that it was really cool, really awesome that you are doing it, so that is why.
AH: Well, thank you, thank you. So, that is the end.