Last month, students of color at the University of Michigan took to Twitter in the numbers to express their views on issues of race and diversity at their university. Using the hashtag #BBUM, the Black Community at UM gained national attention for their online protest and has certainly gotten a discussion started. Now Georgetown’s own Black community will use Twitter and Facebook this Thursday from 11am- 11pm in order to start a similar conversation.
Inspired by the conversation started at University of Michigan, Senior Aya Waller-Bey felt that Black students at Georgetown face many of the same issues as our counterparts in Ann Arbor. As such, our voices deserve to be heard as well. By creating a space where students of color can openly express their thoughts, this online event will shed light on many of the issues that often get swept under the rug or worse, written off as not being a part of the large conversation about race and diversity on campus. As students of color, we all know what it feels like to be the only minority in our classes. Furthermore, we rarely talk about the lack of diversity in the faculty and administrative staff as part of the larger conversation about race and diversity. Thursday’s event is the perfect opportunity to put issues like these on the table.
While Thursday’s #BBGU event has been classified as a protest, it is more importantly a moment of solidarity among every Black student at Georgetown. “This is not a BSA event, nor is it a NAACP event, or a Black House event”, said Waller-Bey. At the end of the day, this event is about the community as a whole saying, “We are all in this together.” This moment of solidarity extends far beyond currently enrolled students of color. Many alumni, both recent graduates and otherwise, also plan to take part in voicing their experiences. It will be very powerful to see the mixture of comments across the years in order to show how far Georgetown has come and what still needs to be done.
Waller-Bey hopes that this online protest will become more than just another moment where Black students express their frustrations, but no one listens and nothing changes. Instead, this event is about showing that Georgetown is far from perfect when it comes to addressing the unique experience of being a minority at this university. More importantly, this online protest is designed to stimulate an ongoing conversation between students and administrators in order to make significant changes. In terms of diversity coursework, Georgetown lags behind many of its peer institutions. In addition, the few academic initiatives we do have regarding diversity get little funding. As such, this online protest is simply the first step in a long journey towards addressing these concerns on a more systemic level.
As we prepare to reflect on our experiences as students of color at Georgetown on Thursday, it is important to remember that we all have a unique story to tell with both positive and negative elements mixed in. It is too easy for the larger Georgetown Community to view this online event as simply another instance where the Black community is complaining about the same old thing. While there are some serious issues that should no longer go unnoticed, the #BBGU event should not simply be a parade of negative comments. This is a moment to present the rest of the Georgetown Community with a much deeper picture of what it truly means to be black at Georgetown and all that comes with that experience.
Courtney Hodge, News Staff Writer