BLACK HISTORY MONTH: UNF student launches organization to support Black women on campus

A University of North Florida student and Jacksonville native Jacquelin Small created a new organization to center around Black women on campus. While her initial goal was to fill a void, she felt personally her effort has now evolved into a growing community.

“For so long, I had heard comments like you’re so smart or you’re so, confident or different things, for a Black girl,” said Small.

“For a Black girl,” four words many Black women have heard before, a phrase often added to the end of a thought or compliment.

Small said, “It may be a nice compliment when you add that on, it kind of makes me wonder, like, is there something that is not normal a Black person to achieve?”

Small decided to reclaim the phrase that’s made her feel “othered” or “diminished.” She decided to reframe it to celebrate her Blackness and create a space where Black women on her campus could also feel seen. Her organization named “For a Black Girl” officially launched on the UNF campus in September 2021.

“We have discussions on challenges that we face going to a PWI, as well as things such as hair. The texturism and colorism issues that affect us a little more differently.” Small said, “I wanted to ensure that we had a safe space to discuss these issues that we felt were important.”

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The Criminal Justice and International Studies major says her organization is also working to impact the broader campus community.

Small said, “We’re actually meeting with other groups of color on campus to kind create a document and stand in unity for this change that we would like to see implemented on campus, which would be getting more professors of color hired on campus.”

In “For a Black Girl,” they balance those serious conversations with bonding activities, community service and other events where they can focus on self-care or fun.

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As for seeing her vision in action, Small said, “It was very hard getting up to this point. I’m an introvert and I’m not used to opening up and being in spaces that I am now. So it was just a sign for me that I did something right. And that I just followed what was placed on my heart and, and I just let it be.”

Affirming herself and other Black girls in the process.

If you’re a student who would like to get involved or a community member who would like to support the group, you can connect with “For a Black Girl” on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/_forablackgirl/.