Poet, activist, and current UCLA student Sy Stokes sends a powerful message with his poem “The Black Bruins,” which calls the school out for dismal black student enrollment. According to Stokes, only 35 black students in the incoming class are expected to graduate, and of the black males at the school—who make up a tiny 3.3 percent of the overall male population— 65 percent are athletes. Stokes says he was inspired to perform this piece because of his own experience of alienation as a multi-racial student, and the legacy of his cousin Arthur Ashe.
“We are not asking for a handout. We are asking for a level playing field,” he says.
NPR reports that black student enrollment at UCLA has plummeted since the state voted down affirmative action in 1996. Stokes’ video is a timely response to ongoing inequity at one of the most respected schools in the country, and challenges viewers to consider the systems that enable the school to continue to enroll only certain kinds of black students.