Instead of growing Afros, staging riots or organizing sit-ins, this generation of protesters are crafting witty digital projects to rally themselves. Back in November, several black students at the University of Michigan launched a social media campaign on Twitter, using the hashtag #BBUM, an acronym for “being black at the University of Michigan,” to describe their unique and often irritating experiences as black students at a predominantly white school. Among their frustrations were the usual: hearing how they gained admission because of affirmative action policies; not being “black enough” because they achieved excellent grades and “sounded white”; having to be the spokesmen and -women for black America in history class; or, on the other side of that spectrum, being ostracized because they weren’t acclimating to their new settings fast enough and instead were choosing to be rowdy, urban or culturally demonstrative on campus.
News of the campaign spread, and black students from peer schools like Cornell University and Duke University adopted the idea to articulate their own sentiments. But as is the norm for high-achieving students, these digital protests could no longer be contained in 140 characters and are now evolving beyond tweets. The black students at Harvard and Georgetown universities are kicking up the effort a few notches and incorporating a visual element into their respective demonstrations.
At Harvard, several black students took pictures of one another holding up signs with statements and questions that have been posed to them by their white peers (and, at times, by other black students). Their campaign is hosted on Tumblr and is promoted and shared using the #itooamharvard hashtag. There’s also an accompanying video production about the campaign that will premiere on March 7. The visuals are compelling narratives and all relate to race: