Building my own table: Black in the AUS

As a Black woman, serving in a leadership position at UBC is a unique experience. As an arts student, I always found our faculty to be overwhelmingly large. While this allows for some diversity in thought and culture, it can also leave one feeling disconnected from the program and university as a whole.

I decided to run for the position of AMS representative under the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) in October of 2019. Before entering the position, I made it a priority of mine to “get a seat at the table” and advocate for UBC’s Black diaspora. After a successful election and a brief introduction to council meetings, I quickly found myself feeling stagnant. I found that the bureaucratic nature of these council meetings would not allow me to make true systemic change. This made me reflect on the achievements that we, Black students at UBC, have accomplished thus far.

Many of our achievements came from the initiatives and the hard work of our community. It was our Black community that formed the African Awareness Initiative in order to establish an African Studies minor program. It was our Black community that formed the Africa Business Club to connect our studies in the business world to our cultural roots on the African continent. It was our Black community that formed a Black Student Union to create a safe space where students across campus could come together and be unapologetically Black.

These achievements were not made because we got a seat at the table.

Rather, we built our own table.

And so, I leave you all with this. To non-Black students and faculty: I urge you to learn about and invest in the Black-run clubs that have existed on campus for some time. Before #BlackLivesMatter was trending on Twitter, the Africa Awareness Initiative, Africa Business Club and the Black Student Union were doing extensive anti-racist work on campus. We have been in this fight for our whole lives.

So welcome, and thank you for joining us.

To my Black siblings: I am proud of you. I am proud of you for never failing to remain resilient during these tough times. I am proud of you for fostering communities where we can all find comfort while also advocating for change.

We are beautiful, we are fearless, and I have no doubt that we will continue to hold UBC accountable.