Gold all in my Crown: UMD BSU's First Royal Court
In the past, there has only been a Mr. & Mrs. BSU, but this year there is a full royal court comprised of Mr. & Mrs. BSU from each class.
Students interested in running for Mr. & Mrs. for their class had to fulfill a few requirements: a grade point average of 2.5, a campaign platform, and a completed application.
Once candidates completed these initial steps, the challenge of campaigning began. Candidates’ platforms were based on both their own passions, as well as the interests and needs of their classmates. Two platforms focused on nurturing an environment of economic education and another on increasing the health and joy of the black community. For approximately two weeks, royal court candidates utilized social media to promote their campaigns by posting colorful fliers, GIFs, and promotional videos.
During UMD’s Homecoming weekend, the polls were opened for students to vote for their class Mr. & Mrs. BSU. With 926 students voting, the results go as follows:
Mr. & Mrs. Freshman
Mr. & Mrs. Sophomore
Greg Jackson II
Mr. & Mrs. Junior
Mr. & Mrs. Senior
The Black Explosion had the opportunity to sit down and profile a few of the winners.
Ebone Baker, Mrs. Senior BSU and geographic information science major, focused her platform on increasing the self-esteem of black women.
“There is a lot of pressure on Black women from their peers,” Ebone Baker said in an interview with Black Explosion social media manager and webmaster, Alex Burton. “We’re also really hard on ourselves in terms of beauty standards.”
Baker made note of the fact that women are especially hard on one another. She cited the backlash that ABC Dallas morning traffic reporter Demetria Obilor received for wearing curve accentuating clothing. Viewers, particularly women, body shamed Obilor, making comments like “she’s a size 16/18 woman in a size six dress, and she looks ridiculous.”
Obilor may have taken the negative comments and turned it into a positive message about acceptance, but, the majority of the criticism she received came from women. This phenomenon of tearing one another down is one Baker would like to end.
“We’re all going through the same things,” Baker said. “I’m trying to figure out why we’re so hard on ourselves.” Similar to Baker’s mission, Mr. Senior BSU desires to create a support system for the black community.
Nehemiah Davis, Mr. Senior BSU, president of the Black Honors Caucus, and computer science major, hopes his platform will encourage his peers to spend more time showcasing their talents.
“This came from a lot of self thought,” Davis said to Burton. “Through every stage of someone’s life, they’re basically told what is important. They’re told what they should be focused on, what is important.”
With college being the first time many of us are independent, it should be a time of introspection and growth, especially in the hobbies we are passionate about. Engaging in the activities that we are good at will give students the chance to get more than just a degree out of their collegiate experience.
“Black people are told what to do and where we should aim for,” Davis said. “We always end up working for someone else, instead of working for ourselves.”. An entrepreneur himself, Davis runs a shoe business “focused on finessing through cleaning, restorations, and customizations.”
Davis began by cleaning some of his friends’ shoes, and soon he had too many shoes to just be cleaning them for fun. When Davis began asking his friends to pay him, they had no problem doing so because they valued his time and effort. Starting a business out of shoe cleaning and customization, Davis researched how he could build his own website and is currently working on a logo.
On the other end of the grade range, I was able to speak with Mr. Freshman BSU, Kristian Agustin, biology major. You may be surprised to learn that Kris is not a black student; he is Filipino. Although the BSU sponsors the royal court, students of any race and ethnicity were welcomed to apply.
Kris’ campaign shed light on an issue not exclusive to the black community: colorism. “It’s an issue faced among many minorities, so it’s something that can create an open conversation among everyone,” said Agustin in an interview.
In a philosophy class, Agustin and his classmates were discussing a video of police brutality. In the video, a black man was pulled over and pushed to the ground by the officer. A Korean student expressed that he probably wouldn’t experience the same treatment as the black man. Agustin countered with the argument that his darker complexion would likely get him confused with a Latino man, and thus, putting him at risk to be a victim of police brutality.
To Agustin, colorism is a battle best fought at a young age. As children, we’re conditioned to believe “light is right”. One of his big goals for the colorism campaign would be to teach young children about not only the dangers of colorism, but also about the importance of acceptance.
While each candidate has a specific set of goals for the future of BSU, a common thread of unity and support runs through each and every one of their platforms.