A ‘cultural yellow pages’ directory could help students of color

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

Unless you’re one of the few students with 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 who have certain needs and wants that not everyone can meet.

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

Mazahar Kalia, a SU law student from Syracuse, said that when students find out about the joint 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 trying to find services in a town you’re not from,” Kalia said.

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 supply store to look after. of their hair.

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

Since new students adapt to the courses and culture of the university, it is understandable that many students are unfamiliar with the city itself. However, that doesn’t mean it’s right to leave students culturally oblivious to life off campus.

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

“The way Syracuse as a city is presented through Syracuse University is like this school in upstate New York, a predominantly white city,” 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’s like in the middle of everything, it kind of takes away from the actual city and the ethnic part of it. “, she said.

To edit the story of what the city of Syracuse is beyond the SU campus, a cultural toolkit—a book or website with information, services, and resources helpful to students of color—should be created to better say who represents Syracuse.

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

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

Students can use a variety of methods in their research, including social media. A hairstylist 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 thinks more could be done to make it easier for students of color to find what they need.

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

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

Tomlin also said that for any type of database being kept, research should be done on each 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 to do business with them.

SU students of color – new and established students – thrive most where they know who and where they can go without question, and a cultural toolkit would help students of color find the necessities that correspond to 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 an SU 2020 alumnus. She studied magazines, newspapers, and online journalism as a graduate student. You can reach her at [email protected].

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