A “cultural yellow pages” directory could help students of color

If you were born before the 2000s, you may remember when phone companies sent yellow and white pages to your home with the list of various contacts – white pages for personal phone numbers and pages yellow for commercial enterprises. Before this information was in a Google search, these directories made it easy to search for the name of a business or someone. New students of color at Syracuse University might use something like this – their own cultural yellow pages.

Unless you’re one of the few students who has a connection to Syracuse before you arrive, it’s not always easy to know where to go for certain necessities. This is especially true for students of color with certain needs and wants that not everyone can meet.

A big problem for students of color is their hair. If you are a black youth on campus who wants or needs this to be done in a specific way, it can be difficult to find someone who can help you properly.

Mazahar Kalia, a League law student from Syracuse, said when students learn the co-ownership business that she and her sister share, there is a sense of relief for those who find them.

“When they find another black girl who can do their hair, they’re so thrilled because it’s always hard to try and find service in a town you’re not from,” Kalia said.

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Kalia said that when dealing with clients who are new color students at SU, she does her best to provide them with as much information as possible, such as where to find a beauty store to take care of. their hair.

“I’m kind of able to educate about the city of Syracuse, its ethnic part, rather than what is portrayed,” Kalia said.

As new students adjust to the courses and culture of the university, it’s understandable that many students don’t know the city itself. However, that doesn’t mean it’s fair to leave students who are culturally oblivious to life outside of campus.

Thoughts of life off campus can only arise when the need to attend to things like hair and food arises. Perception is the key and in some cases it may seem that the ethnic culture in Syracuse does not exist. Kalia feels this perception is being confirmed by the city’s most influential voices.

“The way Syracuse as a city is presented through Syracuse University is like this predominantly white city upstate school,” Kalia said. “And that’s not necessarily the case.”

“We have culture in the city of Syracuse, but because the campus is so big and because it is in the middle of everything, it takes a bit away from the city and its ethnic part,” she said. declared.

To edit the history of the city of Syracuse beyond the SU campus, a cultural toolkit – a book or website with information, services, and resources useful to students of color – should be created for better say who represents Syracuse.

“To have a toolkit… for whatever all black women would want, or all black men would like, having some kind of resource provided by the school, I think students would benefit tremendously,” Kalia said. “Because it would be in the package, they wouldn’t have to search on their own. “

Besides the hair problem, transportation can also be an issue for some students looking for certain types of cultural foods that campus dining options may not provide. Kalia said students frequently spoke to her about the transportation issue.

Students can use a variety of methods in their research, including social media. A hairdresser in Syracuse – Khadesia Tomlin, also known as Kay Kay – is known to students for using specific hashtags for certain hairstyles on Instagram.

However, even with the convenience of Instagram, Tomlin believes more could be done to make it easier for students of color to find what they need.

“Middle school kids should have some kind of brochure or website like something that has information about hairdressers, makeup artists and people who run their own businesses that they can attend,” she said.

Tomlin said a cultural toolkit will give SU students of color a new sense of power with the information it contains. This would allow them to decide what is best for them, rather than being at the mercy of the services they find right.

Tomlin also said that for any type of database being held, research should be done on every company. In his interactions with students, some have had bad experiences with hairdressers, who are not always reliable. She said it would be helpful if the toolkit included only recommended companies to help students feel better about choosing who to do business with.

SU students of color, whether new or established, thrive even more where they know who and where they can go without asking questions, and a cultural toolkit would help students of color find basic necessities that meet their needs. Whether this toolkit is created by the Office of Multicultural Affairs or another group on campus, SU administration and students should support and encourage the creation of the toolkit.

Camille Daniels is a 2020 League alumnus. She studied magazines, newspapers and online journalism as a graduate student. You can reach her at [email protected].



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Marvin M. Moreno

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