Going B.L.A.C.K.: New student org seeks to gain critical knowledge

By Jerome Stuart Nichols | Life Editor
Added November 27, 2011 at 10:07 pm

Black Leaders Aspiring for Critical Knowledge (B.L.A.C.K.) is a new student organization at Eastern Michigan University. If you’ve heard of it, it’s probably because of their controversial and arguably brilliant decision to bring former city of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to speak. But it’s important to know B.L.A.C.K. is more than just Kwame.

B.L.A.C.K. is a revival of an EMU student organization of the same name that disassembled in 1998. The purpose of B.L.A.C.K., as its leaders tell it, is to help men better themselves by gaining critical knowledge. To the members of B.L.A.C.K., “critical knowledge” is a phrase that means many things.

“It’s the opposite of ignorance,” president Nicholas Patterson said.

“It’s knowledge you can apply to your everyday life,” public relations officer Benoris Carter said.

B.L.A.C.K. is essentially a collective of men who share their knowledge and experience on varying topics with one another. Each member has their forte and provides the group with the benefit of that experience.

“Everything we do is a learning process, every member offers something different to the group,” Patterson said. “Benoris is a perfect PR person, so we’re picking up those skills from him. Brian is more mature… so we’re picking up more life skills from him. Aaron is good with money, so we’re learning how to properly spend refunds.”

This sense of connectedness, brotherhood and empowerment permeates the core of the group.

“One of our mottos is, ‘we’re too good to be called average.’ We don’t believe in the average. We want everyone to come in. If you’re having problems, we will help you through that. That’s what a brother does… We’re all brothers in this. None of us are biological brothers, but blood couldn’t separate us. ”

Currently the group only has ten members, but is on the search for more. To help with that search, they’re holding an informational meet and greet event on Dec. 8 in room 301 of the Student Center. Although their name is B.L.A.C.K., they are open accepting members from all races and are making efforts let that fact be known.

“Our name is B.L.A.C.K., Black Leaders Aspiring for Critical Knowledge, but we are open to many more races. It’s called black leaders, but we’re not closing it to just black leaders,” Patterson said.

That openness extends to women as well.

“Women are OK to join, we have an actual women’s council,” Patterson said. “We also have a sister org which is called You Beautiful Black Woman
(YBBW). We would first refer them to that, but if they don’t want to join that then we would bring them in with us and join the women’s council. It’s the same thing as B.L.A.C.K., but they have their own support system.”

“YBBW is the perfect organization for any woman to join. They have the same values and views [as B.L.A.C.K.]; they do a lot for the community,” Carter said.

The members of B.L.A.C.K. do more than just admire the volunteer efforts of YBBW, they actively participate in many philanthropic efforts.

“[We’re] talking with Food Gathers to organize days to go down there and help with food for the less fortunate,” said community services coordinator Aaron Brown.

“We’re also working with DPS (Detroit Public Schools). We’re going to be [collecting] school supplies at our [Kwame Kilpatrick] event, along with the Poetry Society. We’re doing a canned food drive and we’re going to split the canned food down the middle to two food organizations in the
Ypsi area.”

Philanthropy, brotherhood and sharing knowledge is what Black Leaders Aspiring for Critical Knowledge is all about. Those principals have to potential to take the organization far, a fact which does not escape the attention of B.L.A.C.K.’s leadership.

“We are an organization that is going to change the campus,” Carter said.

To get in touch with the members of Black Leaders Aspiring for Critical Knowledge or to learn more about the organization, email emublack@gmail.com or find them on Twitter @emu_black.

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