Shedia Laguer

Shedia Laguer, assistant director of Student Development, describes herself "as someone standing at the intersection of Black and woman" who is "reminded daily that America is stained with the oppression and hate of Black people." Laguer shares what Black Excellence means to her.

I recognize there is a long way to go in obtaining justice and equity for Black people, so today I stand to acknowledge Black excellence.

Black History is undoubtedly American history. There isn’t an industry, professional or purpose that hasn’t been better by the presence, brilliance and involvement of Black people. Black people are excellent. Dominant culture has taught some that excellence is white normative - maybe white, male, cisgender, able body and mind etc. - but we know better than that. In my experience, excellence has often been coupled with Blackness. The notable difference of Black excellence is that it is achieved while meeting the resistance in the form of institutional racism.

Shedia Laguer

While we celebrate Black history and reflect on the Black contributions, remember that history is being made here as well. We have Black excellence right here on our own campus... within our faculty, staff, students and community members.

Black excellence is Jazmine Sullivan, H.E.R and Warren “Wawa” Snipes at the 55th Super Bowl. Black excellence is Simone Biles. Black excellence is Toni Morrison. Black excellence is Black Girl Magic and Black Boy Joy. Black excellence is half a million people turning out in nearly 550 places across the United States to protest the injustice of Black people in America on June 6, 2020.

Black excellence is turning oil drums into instruments, rotten fruit into pie, and scraps into soul food. Everything Black people do is excellent because it's practically superhuman to live in a world that systematically hates you, yet profits from your existence. Black excellence is Black twitter. Black excellence is the first woman to become Vice President of the United States. Black excellence is loud. Silence... it’s 'Who all gon be there?' Black excellence is First Ospreys. Black excellence is the National Pan Hellenic Council. Black excellence is Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. OO-OP!

Black excellence is tenacious. Black excellence is fixing each other's crowns. Black excellence is Ida B Wells. Mary Church Terrell. Dorothy Height. Black excellence is bubble gum bubble gum in a dish. Black excellence is Robyn Rihanna Fenty. Black excellence is 'turn to your neighbor and say neighbor...' Black excellence is blues, soul afro beats, salsa, bhagrhra, kompa, soca, reggae, trap, merengue. Black excellence is peace, sholom and Assalamualaikum. Black excellence is you, me, us.

Colin Powell told us that "If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude."

In reflection, Black history is the accomplishments of 100 years ago and this morning. Let us honor and thank the Blackness that makes Stockton University better. I’d be remitted if I didn't take a moment to acknowledge a Black woman, who was president of this university for over 20 years, Vera King Farris. #BlackExcellence!

Do your part to celebrate Blackness. That might be attending a program, engaging in service or doing the self work to address your own bias, bigotry and hate to create a safer and better space for someone else. Every action counts. As my mom says, "No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible."

While we celebrate Black history and reflect on the Black contributions, remember that history is being made here as well. We have Black excellence right here on our own campus- in our residence halls, classrooms, student clubs, student organizations, honor societies and dining halls. Black excellence within our faculty, staff, students and community members.

Rosa Parks once said, "I had no idea history was being made. I was just tired of giving up." Let’s make history by not giving up. Happy Black History Month. Stay excellent, ospreys!

This Voice was originally published in 2021, following the Unified Black Students Society's Black History Month flag raising. At the time of publication, Laguer was assistant director of Student Development and working towards her Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership. She has since passed her dissertation and earned her doctorate.