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Afrikan Diaspora LLC provides community, resources for Black students

Students walk out of Rieber Hall, where the Afrikan Diaspora Living Learning Community is located. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Patrick Woodham

Feb. 25, 2024 11:04 p.m.

The Afrikan Diaspora Living Learning Community provides a supportive space for students exploring the African Diaspora, but, in some ways, frustrates its current residents and represents their larger concerns with the university.

The Afrikan Diaspora Living Learning Community, which is located on the fourth floor of Rieber Hall North, is designed for students who want to immerse themselves in the culture of the African Diaspora. The African Diaspora refers to anyone whose ancestors were from Africa but now live outside of the continent, whether through voluntary or involuntary migration – such as the Atlantic slave trade – according to DePaul University’s Center for Black Diaspora.

As a result of a proposal made by Residential Life students and professional staff the previous year, the Afrikan Diaspora LLC started in 2008, according to an emailed statement from UCLA Residential Life. The community has also performed events such as the Black History Extravaganza showcase and held activities for residents such as a Sip & Paint, according to the community’s website.

One of the best parts about living in the community is the feeling of having a tight-knit connection to neighbors, said Adonis Renesca, a first-year design and media arts student.

“The sense of community is bigger,” he said. “Sometimes I’ll just be sitting in the lounge, and people will just walk past, and then we’ll have a conversation.”

Davis Favors, a first-year theater student, said when he first arrived at UCLA for a welcome event, the Afrikan Diaspora LLC was advertising its floor. He added that what attracted him to apply were the anecdotes about community and camaraderie within the LLC.

Favors and Renesca both said one of their favorite memories of living in the community was when someone else on the floor made waffles and pancakes and handed them out to other residents. Favors added that he is still friends with those people to this day.

Residents of the LLC also said they enjoy seeing people in the lounge doing their hair, getting ready for parties, attending movie nights, having impromptu meetings and playing UNO.

However, Favors also said the Black community on campus outside of the LLC is not as diverse and unified as it is within the group.

Renesca said if he did not live on the floor, he would feel more separated from the Black community on campus , adding that during his orientation he realized he was one of the only Black people in his group.

However, Renesca also said he thinks the community serves as an important hub and resource for Black students who do not live within it, as one Black student he knows frequently visits the floor.

“He lives off campus, … and he’s always here at the floor hanging out with all the Black people here. He has to travel from his apartment to come over here,” Renesca said. “He does that because he feels like he wants to connect with his community more often.”

Some students also said they wish the housing space could be improved or extended to other floors in other buildings.

The facilities accessible to the community, such as furniture and bathrooms, should be renovated because Rieber Hall’s classic dorm setup can feel old and antiquated, said Benjamin Adubofour, a first-year human biology and society student.

Favors added that by having the community spread only across classic rooms, which are the cheapest UCLA Housing options on the Hill, he feels the university does not demonstrate enough care for its Black students.

“We need to have the Black LLC for more than just classic triples,” Favors said. “UCLA most certainly has the resources. It’s not a problem of having the resources, it’s having people that care. Which, clearly, UCLA has demonstrated to us … that they do not care about the Black experience, or really any minority experience, unless it benefits them.”

Favors added that he would not have known about other Black spaces such as the Black Bruin Community Center, the Black Bruin Resource Center or the Afrikan Students Union if he was not on the floor. He also feels these spaces were only created for UCLA to get good publicity.

He also said he thinks UCLA is no longer working as hard at improving the Black experience as it was when the BBRC was created in response to protests from students during the Black Lives Matter movement.

However, Adubofour said he still appreciates how the community can be found within such a large school.

“In a school as big as UCLA, it’s surprising, but it’s easy to feel alone or isolated,” Adubofour said. “For me, it’s finding that small community of people who I relate to, who share my identity, who share my experiences, and that I can then have this support system.”

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Patrick Woodham
Woodham is a News contributor on the features and student life beat and a Copy contributor. He is also a first-year African American studies and public affairs student from Brooklyn, New York.
Woodham is a News contributor on the features and student life beat and a Copy contributor. He is also a first-year African American studies and public affairs student from Brooklyn, New York.
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