Social advocacy and activism are on the rise today. Being able to have a safe space where one is uplifted, their differences celebrated, and their community is put first is important. The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons. To learn more about their member, Nadiah Layne, please read her interview below.
Tell me about yourself:
Hiii! My name is Nadiah Layne and I am a current sophomore pursuing a major in Psychology and a minor in Forensic Health. I love to meet new people, and learn/try new things as I believe life is all about experiences! I am from Queens, New York-which is a badge I wear proudly-and I hope to one day make an impact on the community I came from. In my free time, I am a Martial Arts enthusiast and I am currently training Jeet Kune Do.
What are you passionate about?
I am extremely devoted to understanding mental health and how that can play a role in life trajectory. I believe it is important to destigmatize mental health, especially in the black community, and that understanding trauma we may face can produce a successful life. As someone who plans to go into Forensic Psychology, I think that the rehabilitative and preventative aspects of this field can sometimes be overlooked and applying this idea of understanding trauma can help heal one not only on an individual level but also on a societal level.
As a student leader, how important is it for students to be involved on campus?
As the Current Juvenile Justice Chair of the NAACP, I think student outreach is extremely important on this campus. The youth are always the generation of change, and I believe student involvement is one of the ways to ensure that this happens. At the end of the day, we are the ones who attend the university and so it is up to us to vocalize what’s wrong because we are the only ones who can truly know what is going on. So much is hidden to the naked eye, and our involvement helps to bring it forward. Student involvement, whether it be defiantly or not, is one of the ways we can see our goals come to life. It can serve as our chance to speak up for justice and speak out against microaggressions.
What skills have you gained by being a member of this ExecutiveBoard?
My experience on this E-board has taught me the importance of community. As someone who is very independent, I often would jeopardize my own mental well being to achieve tasks. I was uncomfortable with asking for help, but being on an E-board has taught me that it is more than okay to ask for help and vocalize when something may be a problem. With my E-board being so welcoming and supportive, it also has provided me with a safe space. It has taught me that I am not alone, and that battles sometimes need to be fought together instead of by oneself.
Why did you join this organization?
I joined NAACP because I wanted to make a change both inside and outside Binghamton University. As a black student on campus, it can often get very uncomfortable having to deal with both “in your face” and subtle racism daily. No black student should ever have to face that, and it definitely shouldn’t be from a place we spend the majority of the year. I knew that NAACP was an avenue of activism I could utilize as we stand to fight for the rights of black people. I specifically ran for the Juvenile Justice Chair because I felt it was a way for me to get involved outside of campus. I feel that engagement with children from the Binghamton area can also serve as positive interactions that can encourage them on their journey to adulthood.
How does your organization help uplift the voices of Students of color on campus, specifically black students, within this predominantly white institution?
It can be tantalizing to attend a place daily where you are the minority. The chances of facing microaggressions are much higher, and as a result, the chances of you personalizing these microaggressions increase. For many black students, especially at a PWI, this is our reality. We are constantly surrounded by faces that do not look like us, which is why it is important to have organizations like the NAACP that can provide safe spaces. Not only does the NAACP uplift black students by creating a safe space for them, but additionally the NAACP fights against the inequalities that black students may face. We uplift through education, advocacy, comfort, and change as well as make it our mission to continue these values.