The University of Washington admitted its most diverse incoming class in the school’s history this year, but black students made up less than 3 percent of that population. Students like Mayowa Aina say that’s no surprise. She saw very few students who looked like her during her five years on campus.
Aina explained in a recent Student Voices essay for The Seattle Times Education Lab that she struggled to find a way to fit in, culturally, on campus.
"The identity of being a black woman was kind of put onto me before I fully accepted it, or had fully grown into that. But when I walked into classroom spaces, I was just sort of expected to know things," she said. "And expected to speak up in a certain way. And expected to engage in a particular way."
She eventually found a space where she felt comfortable in a Black Cultural Studies class taught by Dr. Ralina Joseph. The two of them came to the KNKX studios to talk about the class and the importance of creating safe spaces for difficult conversations.