Diamond Black is a transfer student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who is passionate about creating an inclusive campus for students of color. Originally from Chicago, Black transfered to Madison from the University of New Mexico in 2019 to pursue her career goals while obtaining degrees in political science and psychology.
Black is dedicated to producing change both on campus and throughout various communities. She achieves this through her ardent support of social reforms, her involvement in non-profit organizations, and her dedication to youth development. Black exercises her power to afford change on campus for all communities while sticking to a rigorous schedule.
Her commitment to the Madison area stretches beyond the limitations of campus and into the heart of the city, it extends to the youth and students who make up a large part of the city’s culture. Black’s goal is to unite underrepresented minorities through community building and educational initiatives. In hopes of creating a better future for the younger generation, Black uses her own experiences as a guide to help other people avoid some of the factors of discrimination, racism, and lack of representation she faces on a daily basis. Black spoke on her perspective of what it is like to be a powerful Black woman on UW-Madison’s campus during an interview.
“Being in this community there are not many people who look like me, when I start to go to areas outside of Madison I start to worry about my safety a little more because I’m a person of color and a woman; It’s almost like a double whammy,” Black said.
Black spoke to the hardships shared amidst Black women, including the negative and positive encounters faced by Black people in the Madison area. Listing discrimination as a major element, Black brought light to her experience as a transfer student and as a person of color. The relationship between the lack of representation and the general climate of campus presents a substantial issue that Black combats by carving out spaces for Black people who reside in predominantly white institutions.
“I feel like all the Black women specifically have been really open and welcoming to me because we all know the struggles of being in a place like this, it kind of brings us together,” Black commented. “I don’t have a single professor of color right now, all my professors are white and most of them are men. Dealing with that is really hard on my education because we’re lacking representation in the classroom and that just leads to a lack of perspective in the way that we’re taught.”
Through joining groups like the Student Athletes Equally Supporting Others (SAESO), the Diverse Fan Engagement, and the Wisconsin Black Student Union, Black focuses on ways to elevate the community shared between student-athletes and general students. As a student-athlete, Black prides herself in her ability to dive into the wider campus community to build genuine relationships with her peers, while also working behind the scenes to unite the entire campus community.
“I started to learn the ways that my skin color and the demographics of where I grew would have such a lasting impact on my life, the implications will literally last forever,” Black stated. “Seeing that in a bunch of kids made me realize we need to make a better world for them so that they don’t have to go through the same things that I went through when I was their age or the things that I’m going through right now.”
Black relocated multiple times throughout the nation, and as a result, each transition taught her more about the similarities shared amongst minorities when it comes to educational misrepresentation, lack of resources, and the overall inequalities in living conditions. Her departure and eventual return to the midwest also influenced her to transform the lives of others. Her latest initiative dealt with educating a Hmong population of children on their cultural heritage because their history was not included in the year’s curriculum.
“Without being an athlete, I probably wouldn’t be in the position that I am today because of all that I’ve learned from holding myself accountable, the people around me accountable, and becoming a leader on these teams, I think that’s an essential part of my experience,” Black said. “People like me need to be more involved, student-athletes need to do more on campus.”
Black is an important member of the University of Wisconsin Track and Field team. She has been triple jumping since age 8 and continues to dominate indoor and outdoor track tournaments in the Big Ten Conference. She attributes her determination to the strength and perseverance of the discipline, leadership, and accountability skills essential to maintaining her lifestyle.
“Black people are stronger in more ways than I can imagine because of the different ways we have to navigate through the places we live depending on the demographics,” Black said. “Everybody has their different ways of getting through it [systematic racism] but being a black person anywhere you will be affected.”
Zee Akanni, Black’s friend and fellow member of the Diverse Fan Engagement Club, believes that Black’s energetic, driven, and welcoming energy is what this campus needs. After working together in a summer camp in 2019, Akanni highlighted Black’s dependability and her dedication to her work.
“From the first day I met her, she made me feel comfortable talking to her and getting to know her. She’s just someone easy to become friends with,” Akanni said. “I think she’s good in whatever environment she’s put in, after two years the kids still love and adore her, they appreciate what she does and the relationship she’s built with them.”
Lauryn Azu, a close associate of Black, believes that her talented and hard-working nature is an essential part of her character. After interning together this summer, Azu has a newfound appreciation for Black’s presence and impact on campus.
“She’s just a nice girl who has a bright future,” Azu said. “You need those people who are always willing to help, I feel like she’s the kind of person to always help you out with stuff. You need strong people, as an athlete she’s always pushing herself to be better which takes a lot of inner strength and discipline.”
Diamond Black’s impact on her peers and the community is an integral part of her journey in creating a more inclusive environment for both athletes and students of color. Her devoted and sincere character as well as her pivotal work is recognized throughout campus. Her powerful voice is one that continues to be heard throughout the campus community.