Malik Barnes '23

The Malcolm X Institute of Black Studies functions as many things in its beautiful niche in our community, hand carved by great men of integrity and passion. Since its origins, which date back to 1967, it has been a symbol of activism and a refusal to turn a blind eye to the injustices which still haunt our Wabash Brothers and our nation to this day. The name itself was chosen as a means to refuse to be named and defined by anyone other than ourselves. Though the Institute was founded as a safe haven for Black students, people of all races—including one of our founders, Emeritus Professor Peter Frederick—have been crucial in aiding the Institute as it fulfills its mission and realizes its full potential.

Today, the Institute functions as a place where Black students are free to embrace historically suppressed aspects of their Black Heritage. It shapes critical thinkers of all races who refuse to allow racism to continue as it has historically and the more subtle and harder to see ways it continues today. The Institute is open to all students who take seriously matters of Black: reality, thought, and context. This year we look forward to adding to and further building our family of Brothers who are driven and determined to make a positive impact not only here at Wabash, but their own local communities and throughout the world as we carry on through life. We are firm believers that it is not the duty of Black students to be primary educators of these complex and quite frankly, disturbing realities many still face. However, there is great value in the context and real-world experiences minorities have and I encourage you to consult with those that are willing, such as myself.

As Chairman of the Institute this year, I am thrilled to work alongside all who mean well for the progression and well being of all students at Wabash with an emphasis on those who have traditionally had a more difficult time here. It is said that our college days are some of the best ones of our lives, and this is something that should ring true in the ears of every Wabash man regardless of race, creed, or origin. Though progress may always be slow to those who call for it, I commend the good efforts made by those throughout our community. Even so, I have long held that our campus administration must do better at understanding the demographics of its students and accommodating them to create a more inclusive environment. For example, if they understand that many of our students may come from communities where they have not interacted with many minorities, they should make efforts to educate those students. This would cultivate a more genuine understanding, which would yield genuine relationships.

If the only idea you have of a minority came from the news or what your grandparents told you, we’re in some deep trouble! However, even for you I have hope that you can leave Wabash a more educated and inclusive man, ready for employment in the 21st century. It is a great dishonor to our college that it should produce graduates who are just as clueless to the reality and effects of racism as when they first enrolled. Again, it is not the duty of minority students to be the primary educators of the reality and effects of racism, creating diversity by putting people of all races in the same room but not fostering understanding and inclusion just results in tribalism. Nevertheless, I look forward to working alongside all who have hope and faith in building a better Wabash and cultivating a more equitable and inclusive community. If you believe in the promotion of freedom, equality, justice and humanity for all people, and would like to be among like-minded men, getting involved with The Malcolm X Institute of Black Studies might be for you!