A play about the realities of black students at Harvard University debuts Friday at the Black Arts Festival on the Harvard campus. Hosted by various multicultural campus organizations, the “I, Too, Am Harvard” performance focuses on the daily microaggressions black students face at the predominately white university. (The most recent university data puts the black student population at 5.2 percent of the 21,000-plus student body.)
“As far back as I could remember, I’ve always been pretty cognizant of race,” one student remarked in the 5-minute promo video. “But this past semester was uncomfortable because it was the first time in a long time that I felt the burden of being black in the classroom and being black walking around Harvard’s campus…This year, I just felt like ‘the other.'”
The corresponding #ITooAmHarvard campaign has launched on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr to further the conversation.
Students at Harvard aren’t the only ones using social media to spread their message of isolation and frustration. In the fall of 2013, the Black Student Union at the University of Michigan flooded Twitter with the #BBUM hashtag (which stands for “being black at University of Michigan”). Three months later, they organized a “Speak Out” protest that drew more than 1,000 attendees on campus. Earlier this year, UCLA junior Sy Stokes’ spoken word video went viral with the assertion that his school has more NCAA championships than black male freshmen.
What do you make of these movements? Is social media a strong medium for drawing attention to these matters?