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Yik Yak racism targeted in 'Black Friday' protest in the Pit

Black Friday featured student speakers as well as performances by a cappella group Harmonyx and spoken word group EROT.

Senior Omololu Babatunde, one of the organizers of the event, spoke on a number of issues spanning from the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., to racial implications of Kenneth Wainstein’s report on academic irregularities at UNC to racial harassment on the anonymous social media app, Yik Yak.

“At the end of last semester when we were going through finals, a lot of my friends of color on campus were going through this huge internal dilemma of trying to navigate engaging with this space academically and also trying to navigate their personhood being attacked on a national front and a very local front as well,” she said.

Student speaker Dylan Su-Chun Mott spoke of plans to create a coalition of student groups that deal with race issues.

“For so long, we’ve been looking toward this invented majority – read that as white majority – for some kind of legitimacy and for answers and for help. I’m saying if we look to each other then we are no longer in the minority, we are in fact, the majority,” he said.

The event in the Pit was followed by a documentary screening in the Stone Center later that evening. The film, called “Don’t Believe the Hype,” focused on student activism to bring the Stone Center to campus in the 1990s.

“These discussions (in the documentary) sound exactly the same as the ones we’re having now,” Babatunde said.

“We have to remember the history of student activism on this campus. We do have the ability to change our environment. This is just the start.”

Junior Jerome Allen attended the protest in the Pit and found the sense of urgency conveyed by the speakers to be empowering.

“The misrepresentation of black culture and black identity was something I resonated with,” he said. “For me, specifically, I do a lot of theater... and though there is a voice there for people of marginalized identities, it’s not as prominent as I’d like it to be.

“But it’s not just theater, it’s the larger system we grew up in.”

Senior Tasia Harris attended the event and said Yik Yak often contains an undercurrent of aggressively racist sentiment, particularly in response to a protest held in the Pit during finals.

“There are things along the lines of ‘if we behave in this way’ — referring to a protest we held in the Pit —then ‘we deserve the violence being brought against (people of color)’,” she said.

Harris said she was concerned by the fact that her classmates were expressing these sentiments under the protection of anonymity.

Babatunde indicated that this event was held on the first Friday of the semester to set a precedent of increased activism in the new year.

“Just because this place was not intended for us doesn’t mean we can’t shape it,” she said.

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