The NYU Black Student Union started its year on Wednesday with a discussion about colorism. Many students discussed their perspectives about the impact of skin color discrimination within black and brown communities in the United States and beyond.
Steinhardt sophomore Harmony Hemmings facilitated the meeting and she said that all people should acknowledge that color-based discrimination exists.
“My goal today was to educate people on the fact that this is a major issue in the black community,” Hemmings said. “But even outside of the black community, it’s also a major issue and something that’s prevalent in Latino communities, in Asian communities being like Koreans, Asians and all that and Indian communities as well as a subset of the Asian communities as well as Caribbean and African communities.”
She said she hoped that the conversation today would motivate people to work towards seeing beauty in different skin tones.
Hemmings wants to create a comfortable environment for students to delve into the complex and sensitive issues of race and discrimination, something that has always been a major goal of BSU. BSU Political Action Chair Michelle Jones said that she most enjoyed having a community for black and brown students to unite and support each other.
“I think we are definitely trying to work with a lot of different organizations,” Jones said. “I know we’re gonna be doing a event with the Muslim Student Association, and work with different organizations on campus.”
Jones said that BSU also plans to co-facilitate different meetings and work with different organizations throughout the year. BSU hopes to continue growing its community this year, and wants to focus on more intersectional topics. CAS senior Harry Boadu is the BSU president this year, and he said that one goal is to open more conversations regarding intersectionality.
“One of the big things we’re trying to focus on this year is not trying to define what blackness is and put people in a box, but rather create a space where people come together and share who they are what what their different identities are under the umbrella of blackness,” Boadu said.
He also said that BSU hopes to focus on the various representations within the club, such as the LGBTQ community, in its upcoming events.
Nursing junior Tyla Leach is the BSU social media chair, and she also hopes the club becomes more inclusive of different communities.
“We look out for disabled black people, LGBTQ black people, gender nonconforming, all those identities,” Leach said. “[This] builds a stronger community.”
She thinks that for more black people to know each other would create greater solidarity on campus. These sentiments are why Boadu is trying to closely collaborate with various LGBTQ groups.
“I don’t want to say what the events are yet, but we are trying and hopefully will come to provision in November when we do a lot of things for our homecoming week,” Boadu said. “I don’t wanna make any promises, but the following week, we’re definitely working with a club that we think will bring communities together.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misrepresented a quote from Mr. Boadu in which he was discussing how the BSU would encourage others to define their blackness. Additionally, Ms. Jones is the current BSU Political Action Chair, not the former. WSN regrets the errors.
Email Adeija Jones at [email protected]