Perspectives on Black History Month
- February 8, 2022
- Michelle Thomas, UCI undergrad, inaugural Social Sciences Black Lives Matter scholar, and Black Psychology Student Association president
"This is a special time of year where Black people throughout history are honored for their contributions to helping create this country and shape the world. Regardless of the subjective standards encompassing ‘exceptionalism’ and ‘success’, all Black people should be honored and celebrated. And although this is a special time, Black people should be celebrated regardless of the month. I implore other communities to take time to learn about the beautiful yet painful lives of Black folks. I implore them to think about the ways they engage with Black culture and potentially perpetuate stereotypes. I implore them to seek allyship in all of its complexities though it may not be the easiest path.
As an inaugural recipient of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) scholarship, I have taken the time to further explore how colorism impacts the Black community as I prepare for the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) symposium in the spring. This research has stressed the importance of healing and self-care because discrimination and prejudice posits a mental and physical toll. Further, it has stressed the importance of community building and social support. Through my various involvements on campus like Black Psychology Student Association (BPSA) and programs like Creating Opportunities and Conquering Hurdles (COACH), I have been able to build community and embrace the role of helper. I take the time to honor my mentors Dr. Jeanett Castellanos, Dr. DeWayne Williams, and Dr. Jessica Ortega for their emphasis on building impactful relationships and believing in me. As a Black woman about to graduate from UCI with a B.A. in psychology, I hope to leave behind a legacy for Black people that will change their lives for the better."
Michelle Thomas is a senior psychology major at UC Irvine. Read more about her experience here.