Students running the project: McKenzie McClain and DeJa Smith

Advisor: Dr. Amy Reynolds

Category: Wild Card

TimeTable: full year to continue through fall

Mission Statement: Our mission is to give African American students at LSU a voice to express their opinions on the different issues they face being the minority at a major university while striving for unity.

According to LSU’s Office of Diversity, the African American student body makes up about 11.3% of the population here at LSU.

So Far: Realizing the upward trend in teenage/ young adult usage of social media in recent years, we concluded that the best way to get African American students on LSU’s campus to be honest with us was to approach them in an environment they’ve created: Twitter. We were also aware that people might feel indifferent about confiding their personal thoughts in us individually, so we created a brand new joint Twitter account with a carefully selected avi, header, and bio. Observing how effective award shows are with getting people to live tweet with them on whatever issue is relevant at the time, we decided to take the same approach. By offering one question every week for three weeks, we vowed to interact with our audience—tweeting them live responses as the feedback came in. As for promoting our brand, we capitalized on what works best for our school. Every LSU student knows the best way to get your ideas heard is to hand out flyers and post them all over the school. Seeing our name everywhere got people interested in what we were about. Before we knew it, our audience was promoting us!

Connecting: In order to keep the responses from our audience in easy reach, we established a hashtag that we encouraged everyone to use in their tweets. (#theEBONYproject)

The next step: If awarded the grant money, our plan is to purchase cameras and related equipment to document our interactions with our audience. We’d also use the money to plan events promoting our brand—allowing students to come out and voice their opinions in non violent ways. One such event would take place during late February (Black History Month) or early March. We’d like to rent out a intimate size room in the union to hold a discussion with students of all races to discuss the progress or lack there of in history till present day. Our hope is to expose the feelings of students while allowing them the chance to hear other points of views. We’d like to have a panel setting which would include upper class men from Greek organizations (both PHC and NPHC) to sever as peer mediators in the intense conversation. We’ll hold table sits prior to the event to collect feedback on what our audience would like to discuss. We’ll then compile those questions as starter points for our event. We’ll create a hash tag so our audience can be active via Twitter during the discussion.
Another event we’d like to see happen in April, is a movie screening of “Color of Friendship.” The Disney Channel Classic aired in 2000 to show its viewers the impacts of racially prejudging someone. We feel the movie will be perfect to support our message of unity being that it takes the angle of exposing more than one race. We’d like to implement a few questions before the movie begins such as: Why do you surround yourself with the people you do? Are your friends your friends because of chance or strategy? Why have you chosen to sit by they people you have? What if we made you sit next to someone who looked different from you? Would you stay the duration of the movie? We’ll then ask our audience to reflect on their answers as the movie plays and take feed back when the movie is over. We’ll ask those same questions to a few participants before the movie when they have no influence and film their responses. We’ll then film those same people when the movie ends to see if their answers had any deviation. We’ll compile the footage and post it to our YouTube account also putting snippets of the footage on Instagram and Twitter. Since the movie is a childhood classic for all current students at LSU, we’ll take advantage of Instagram and label our event #ThrowbackThrusday (#tbt). Our goal is to see our third event happen in the fall. We’d like to hold an interactive discussion in the event room of Barnes and Noble. Our focus for this event is destroying stereotypes. We will select volunteers from the audience to come up and act out a known stereotype: gay, nerd, gangster, rich kid, outcast..ect. We’ll then ask the audience to break down what they find accurate and inaccurate about the person’s performance. This process should begin to open the eyes of our audience to see what their peers find offensive, thus creating unity in understanding. We’ll ask that our audience SnapChat this event using the hash tag #theEBONYproject to promote us to everyone in their friend list.

We plan to take advantage of other social media platforms such as: YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and SnapChat. With YouTube, we’ll upload video footage of our organized events to allow people around the world to observe our campaign. We plan to set up accounts on the other previously listed social media sites to collect feedback from our audience— giving them the opportunity to submit their own video submissions. We’d like to create t-shirts with all of our information on them to be handed out to LSU’s student body for promotional purposes. Once enough footage is collected, we’d like to compile it into a documentary with the hopes of triggering enough popularity to take our vision further.

Though the 11.3% of African American students at LSU seems small, the overall community is more than just a figure. Whether accepted or not, isolated or included, the population is very much alive and their voice is strong. Don’t forget to listen.