My repurposing project begins with a letter I wrote to my friends about a black woman’s experience at white parties. My intention is to create an op-ed like piece, that one would see in the Daily or the Atlantic that explores what the #BBUM campaign is actually about, beneath the social media aspects, the press release, and the negotiations with the demands. I haven’t decided yet if I want it to be expository, because I think there is too much potential for drama.
#BBUM. for those who don’t know, was/is “a social media campaign geared toward highlighting the unique experiences of black students on campus.” I want to get into the intersections, tensions, and challenges of what it is like to be black here. This project is similar to Coates’ piece in that it is inspired by my brother’s adolescence. I get to reflect on my experiences as a black teen, as he goes through that journey. It doesn’t matter if the institution is collegiate or secondary, there is an intersection of identities: race + campus culture + idiosyncrasies + SES, that shape our experiences. As he thinks about college, I think about what truths I need to tell him before he buys into a false dream.
The first piece of writing I’ll be mapping is actually an Atlantic article about stereotype threat by Claude M. Steele. It searches for an explanation for the underperformance of black undergraduates. Steele’s piece is meant for a general audience, probably of American adults, who show a general interested in race or education. He refrains from use high diction, and keeps the piece rather accessible. The context is around affirmative action debates and topics related to these debates. He refers mostly to the assumption that middle class blacks don’t suffer from disadvantages of race due to their SES. Steele wants educational institutions to mediate for stereotype threat. The research findings that Steele and his colleagues unearthed through experiments prompted him to write this piece. Constraints are probably the place of publication and those who strong and unyielding opinions regarding affirmative action, race, and standardized testing. Steele’s writing is straight forward and convinces the reader that stereotype exists, and thus we have a window into the lives of black students. I hope to accomplish something similar.
The second piece I’ll map are the 7 demands that the Black Student Union released in 2014, sort of in culmination of the #BBUM campaign and a history of racial injustice on UM’s campus. It was composed, most likely by all members of the executive board of the BSU and maybe with help of their academic advisory. While its composer is unknown, it is presented as if the former statement is true. The subject is a delineation of the unfilled promises the administration made to black students. The context was a) that it was MLK day when the speech was made, and b) that the racial tensions on campus & the challenges black students face at a PWI had been exposed with the #BBUM campaign. Its audience is UM’s administration but also the students of the university. The medium is actually a speech that has been transcribed. Its exigence is the administration’s passive aggressiveness over the last 40 years and the inability for the BSU to continue to be passive in light of recent events. I hope to mimic this piece’s ability to speak, at first, as one man within the black community, yet still call to action change that would effect the masses. Because the speaker’s exigence is almost palpable, even in written form, there is a sense of authority present.