Students around the Kimmel Center for University Life were met with a large number of signs reading “#Black_______Matter” on Thursday, thanks to the Black Students Union’s newest demonstration.
The posters are the group’s new Black Presence Campaign, and each poster had the blank filled in by one of the participants. The campaign was created in an effort to promote discourse among the NYU student body about embracing black culture and to draw attention from the university to the Black Lives Matter movement. Many signs read “Black Voices Matter,” while others had phrases like “Black Rage Matters” and “Black Education Matters.”
Rahani Green, CAS junior and vice president of the Black Students Union at NYU, said the group wanted the university to know that black lives indeed matter and that the movement is not just a fad.
“The black agenda is very low on NYU’s list of priorities and we’re trying to change that,” Green said. “We’re trying to be visible. And through this visibility we ultimately seek institutional change and diversity training.”
Green also said when BSU was putting the flyers up, NYU Public Safety and Kimmel Operations initially took them down.
“The Black Presence Campaign is supposed to be passive defiance. It’s a protest,” Green said. “[Kimmel Operations] treated them like they were any old flyers and I think that speaks volumes to the invisibility and the lack of consideration black students face at this university.”
She added that the movement is intended to show the university that, despite only making up 5 percent of the student body, the black community is an important part of NYU.
Tisch junior Bridget Crisonino said she felt that this latest demonstration was powerful and a step in the right direction, but that the lack of a central focus could potentially weaken the message.
“I’d definitely say this movement is a good a stepping stone, but I don’t know if it’s as efficient as the black lives matter movement because it has a lot of different aspects going into it,” Crisonino said. “I like it as a subsection of black lives matter, but I don’t know if it could be its own whole entity just because it has so many different topics that it’s trying to reach at once.”
On the other hand, LS freshman Tareq Hammadi said he felt the diversity of voices was the movement’s most empowering strength.
“I liked, for example, ‘Black Hair Matters,’ the idea that sometimes having an afro for example is not considered professional or acceptable in the workplace,” Hammadi said. “That’s one way black people are discriminated against. This emphasizes how black people are discriminated against in every single facet of our society.”
The signs also left room for whoever was filling them out to elaborate on their phrase of choice.
Near the base of the Kimmel staircase was a sign with letters that had been traced over multiple times for emphasis, reading “Black Voices Matter.” Below the phrase were four words: “They’re our greatest weapon.”
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