In honor of the anniversaries on campus — the 50th anniversary of the BCC, 50th anniversary of the Black Studies Program, and 25th anniversary of the Chester Children’s Chorus — the college is Celebrating Black Excellence through programming for this year. The Phoenix, in addition to event coverage, will be publishing features of students on campus who embody Black Excellence in the many forms it takes.
Malcolm Bevans ’22 is pursuing a major in Economics and a potential minor in Philosophy. He is a member of Swarthmore Wealth Investment Finance Trade, a member of the Swarthmore Philanthropy Council, a member of Clarus Capital Investment Club, and a coordinator for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. In his time at Swarthmore, Bevans has found a way to integrate his interest in economics and finance to educate and support his community.
In every organization Bevans is a part of, he has found some way to combine his interest in finances with giving back to his community both on- and off-campus.
“They all involve an interest of mine, being, you know, the econ and finance realm, kind of that whole sphere. Stuff like S.W.I.F.T. and SPC are ways I can give back with that interest of mine the best way I can. At least that’s how I see it,” said Bevans.
Bevans has found that volunteering his time and sharing his financial knowledge with low-income communities in the surrounding area has been a meaningful, refreshing experience for him.
“I’m the coordinator of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program this year and I really like that it’s 100% volunteer. We essentially go to community centers and file income taxes for low-income people in the community. I do like that work and meeting those people a lot. It’s a breath of fresh air,” said Bevans.
For Bevans, the importance of financial literacy is something that was reinforced in his household. This exposure has influenced his interest in the field and yearning to give back to others.
“Given my own upbringing and kind of those tenets being instilled in my own household, I kind of, from my parents, got a sense of how important [finances] are and how to best approach them,” said Bevans. “This has very much helped in terms of kind of wanting to give that knowledge to other people as well.”
As Bevans navigates his field of interests, he is reminded of what Black excellence means to him in terms of pushing through social adversity and simply being a great Black person.
“Black excellence to me is just being great in your field, or maybe not even just in your field, maybe just overall in a plethora of things,” said Bevans. “Just being great as a Black person in a society where it’s frowned upon. It’s not a system built to make Black people excellent, so shining through that, despite that, is Black excellence. It’s excellence despite the adversity that this society has laid in front of us.”
Bevans believes that the efforts he makes on campus are helping to diversify the financial realm and expand the pool of people interested in the field.
“Obviously, of course the financial services field is one that is lacking diversity. Both racial- and gender-wise in any way it’s a white male-dominated space. So I do feel as though the efforts that I personally put forth given my interest in the subject, overall, you know, has an impact on campus,” said Bevans. “One of the goals I have is to expand that pool of people interested in the space, beyond kind of the typical white male stereotype.”
In addition to expanding the field, Bevans views financial literacy as an important skill everyone should know, especially the Black community.
“It [finances] is a field that is applicable to us all. You know, we don’t all need to go and work in finance or banking to understand the importance of, say, financial literacy topics like investing. I feel like it’s widely important to all of our lives, especially, of course, the Black community, given the historic disenfranchisement we’ve had economically,” said Bevans.
While Bevans feels Swarthmore supports Black excellence, he believes that the administration could do more.
“I mean, there’s Black excellence on campus. I suppose the administration supports it, given the whole 50th anniversary of the BCC celebration thing, but I mean in terms of it physically manifesting on campus, I wouldn’t say that they’re going out of their way to do any kind of crazy good,” said Bevans. “When it comes to that kind of thing, I have always been for an open conversation about the issues that minorities face in society today.”
Bevans acknowledges the bubble that some Swarthmore students live in and hopes that an open dialogue will keep in mind real-world problems minorities face.
“It is easy to forget about those problems, for sure, being here in this bubble. But there are real issues outside of Swarthmore, in the real world. So my hope would be at least that not only a conversation is had, but that we’re at least cognizant of the fact that there are actually real problems that need to be addressed and discussed, and that hopefully that could start with a dialogue here,” said Bevans.
Bevans, however, feels that there should be a concerted effort by all members of the community to address issues at the college and to celebrate and acknowledge Black excellence beyond an anniversary.
“Obviously stuff like the 50th anniversary of the BCC is a one-time thing really because it’s like an anniversary but stuff like that definitely helps in educating the wider campus community. I think it is positive in terms of teaching the greater campus community about Black culture,” said Bevans. “The conversation would have to be a concerted effort from those that do not understand, to kind of try to understand, because of course the BCC is there and we [Black students on this campus] are here. A desire needs to be had from the campus community as a whole to want to explore these issues, to educate themselves on it, and to dispel their biases or misconceptions.”
Ultimately, Bevans believes that Black excellence is something Black students should strive for and that it should not be overlooked.
“Black excellence definitely should not be overlooked. It should be celebrated as much as possible, given the barriers that one would have to go through to accomplish such things as a Black person in this country,” said Bevans. “To the Black folk, always strive for excellence. Blow past those barriers and don’t let them bring you down.”