Najwah Irving, a first-year student in Biochemistry, has taken on presidency of Brock’s Roots African-Caribbean Society, known as RACS.
Formerly, the Brock community knew the society as Roots. Irving describes the name change as a natural next step for the society, brought about by her work and that of other club members.
“It’s about staying true to the goals of my predecessors. I’m personally friends with two past presidents. The rebranding is just refinement. I’ve put in a lot of my soul and a lot of my heart and energy into planning,” said Irving. “I am focused on school, but this is also a part of me and I refuse to not uphold their ideals. It’s not rebranding but enhancing that structure that’s already there.”
In terms of changes, Irving cites increased frequency of discussions and events for students as the primary difference between RACS now and historically.
“Our intention is to run as many functions at appropriate times as students want. We want to have discussions, functions and celebrate black excellence,” said Irving.
In the past, RACS has run events such as the Mr. and Miss Roots Pageant and discussion panels, including a panel entitled Being Black in 2017, which ran during Black History Month.
According to Irving, RACS aims to continue to grow in future years.
“I just hope there are one or two souls with the hope, drive and vision to keep it alive and to keep it collaborative with the community. I hope it thrives. I hope its students are constantly growing and developing themselves, constantly becoming great. The club will always be there,” said Irving.
A common thread in Irving’s plans for the year is an emphasis on providing club members opportunities to grow as individuals. As president, she claims that focusing on individual personal development is part of her job.
“I am an engine in the sense that I want to be the drive that gives everyone the energy to realize the magnificence in them. I’ve come to the conclusion that my role is to impact as many lives as possible and to help others grow to their full potential. I’ve had many mentors who have helped shape me, and who I am is very different than from two or three years ago,” said Irving. “I want people to say this club helped them become the best possible version of themselves.”
According to Irving, RACS is open to all students in hopes of sharing experiences with African and Caribbean culture. In the current political climate, particularly in the United States, she maintains this is necessary to move forward.
“The club is not an exclusively black club. It’s for whomever identifies with the African and Caribbean culture. It’s not about race. It comes across as being about race, but it’s really just about people sharing different experiences. That’s what life is all about: coming together to share different experiences. While some are bad or painful, we need to stop living in the past and move to the future or we’ll end up like the States. Nobody wants that kind of hate and negativity. Nobody wants that chip on their shoulder; it’s sad,” said Irving. “So anyone can join. Anyone can participate. It’s for everyone to come in and enjoy another aspect of life.”
RACS is planning to host an information table November 8 and to hold the first meeting of the year on Nov. 14 for students to learn more about the club.
Further information can be found at the Brock Roots African Caribbean Society — ACS Facebook page.