UCI Office of Global Engagement recently hosted a Black Lives Matter event which brought together a range of experts to share their insights and perspectives and allow UCI community members to ask questions about timely international topics. The meeting addressed Black Lives Matter and the Identity of African-American Students here and abroad.
Doug Haynes, Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, made introductory remarks describing the Black Lives Matter movement as a social justice organization whose focus is on racial justice.
- The movement began in 2013 in response to deaths of Black men and women in U.S. police custody and has grown to involve countries around the world.
- The movement protests policing practices and a justice system that criminalizes Black people, and includes dismantling institutions that promote anti-Blackness.
- This event focused on the relationship through the lens of study abroad.
Andrew Gordon, CEO & Founder, Diversity Abroad, expanded upon the reality that the Black experience is difficult because the world is not always kind to people of color.
- Study abroad can be stressful because there is a mix of students close together.
- Many have to deal with internal and external microaggressions in many countries.
- Countries in study abroad programs have very few Black CEOs, and systems aren’t inclusive to Black students.
Ambyr Evans, UCI Study Abroad Returnee, depicted the Black identity perceived abroad.
- Being mixed has its advantages abroad as darker complexion comes with more discrimination tied to anti-Blackness.
- In other countries such as Korea, she had to pay more attention with how she fit into social spaces and she interacted with peers.
- Acting as a mini-representative of anti-racism abroad showed her how important it is to engage in difficult conversations.
Brennan Lagman, UCI Study Abroad Returnee and Founder, Intuitive Insights, also shared his experience as a mixed person abroad.
- In Ghana, he found that Black American students accepted him more than Ghanian students.
- Teachers in Ghana tried to bridge Ghanian and American students because Ghanian students were never taught about race from their schools in London.
- He encountered a very emotional experience when he visited the slave quarters, which really tied him to his identity.
Marketus Presswood, Ph.D. in History, former Founder, Black Studies Abroad, generalized and contextualized the discrimination faced by Blacks throughout history and continuing today.
- Black individuals are etherized in spaces like Asia where ethnic purity is taught.
- Tropes and stereotypes about Black people in many areas include that they are poor and unclean.
- During COVID, Black people have been labeled in China, which has heightened anti-Blackness there.
Notes from Q&A:
- Study abroad is still a great opportunity to learn about yourself and see how much Black culture has influenced the world.
- Educators and advisors should incorporate more diversity training into the predeparture process.
- Because of the historically low percentage of Black students studying abroad, the example isn’t there for prospective Black students.
- The percentage of Black students going abroad is about 6%, and that needs to increase.
- Exit surveys can ask more questions regarding the cultural aspects.
UCI is committed to supporting our community members from around the world who share the values of learning and discovery to make the world a better place. The UC system complies with applicable laws and regulations and actively advocates for policies that further its academic mission.