Here’s something most college students know and experience: In college, you can go weeks engaging in conversation with the person next to you in class without knowing their name. And beyond that, many black girls and women are discouraged from forming bonds with other black girls and women because, as the saying goes, “Not everyone is your friend.”
For Black History Month, I collaborated with two black women grad students in the English department for an event promoting black female friendships. We came up with the name “SpeedShip.” The name is inspired by SpeedDating events, which encourage people to meet and get to know each other.
On the day of the event, we decorated the conference room of the library with Valentine’s Day decorations and provided finger food. We wanted to create a relaxing atmosphere so students would feel comfortable sharing information about themselves. Everything from the soulful R&B playing in the background to the location of the event in the conference room on the third floor of the library was deliberately chosen. Speedship was our first planned event as a team, and we wanted everything to go smoothly.
What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?What movie can you watch over and over again?These are a few questions we typed on small pieces of paper and spread across the tables as each person exchanged information with another. Each pair had four minutes to ask each other questions before moving along to someone new. I made sure to walk around the room and help facilitate conversations and jump in with information about myself. After time ran out, we quickly debriefed the group of 14 young women and explained our reasoning for planning SpeedShip.
Ideally, we want to plan more SpeedShips and eventually create a space for young black women on campus to come and talk with each other. Ironically, one student asked if we could create a space for them like “a black girl talk.” For now, we plan on continuing SpeedShip and reaching more young black women on campus.
Lakenzie Walls is a graduate student in English at SIUE and a contributing writer for the Cultural Front.