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Social media campaign #BlackFacts aims to educate viewers on Black history

| Wednesday, February 10, 2021

With February marking the start of Black History Month, [email protected] launched a new campaign called #BlackFacts to provide followers with information on a different figure, event or concept relating to Black history each day of the month.

[email protected] is a talk show created by doctorate student Emorja Roberson and co-hosted by senior Lynnette Wukie that aims to amplify Black voices affiliated with Notre Dame and discuss the experiences of Black community members on and off campus. 

When discussing his inspiration for starting the platform, which can be accessed from several social media outlets, Roberson said he wanted to explore the experiences of students at Notre Dame.

Eventually, he realized he wanted to expand the show to reach a wider audience, so Roberson began highlighting the stories and experiences of alumni.

“Notre Dame was a microcosm, and it’s different from South Bend,” Roberson said. “I wanted to include the experiences of those who are outside of the Notre Dame wall.”

This season, the show is going a step further with the creation of the #BlackFacts campaign. Roberson said he hopes the campaign will help educate people on prominent Black figures and events they may not otherwise be familiar with.

“Typically Black History Month is 28 or 29 days, and growing up I thought that was something that a white man established for it,” Roberson said. “But I just found out recently that it was actually something Carter Woodson established, only because the Emancipation Proclamation took place in February and Frederick Douglass’s birthday is in February. So if I have these concepts that are incorrect, I can only imagine how many others have an incorrect idea about Black History Month, and how many don’t know about the less popular events or Black people.”

The campaign will feature these figures, events and ideas over a 31-day period. Roberson said he works with people from several departments on campus, including the Film, Television and Theatre department and the Mendoza College of Business to make the talk show happen.

“It took a lot of time and a lot of work, but it’s so worth it,” he said. “I wouldn’t pass up this opportunity for any other option because a lot of these things that I’m learning and that we’re recording about, I didn’t learn about it until I started reading it myself a couple of months ago. We’re never too old to learn something new.” 

In light of the protests over the summer, Roberson said that there is now a “heightened awareness” where people are looking to learn more about the Black community. 

“This campaign will help to break some ideas of what people thought about Black history,” Roberson said. “They can also enlarge their awareness and enlighten them on the things that we have contributed to American history.” 

It is these contributions, Roberson said, that he most wants people to remember about the campaign. 

“What I want people to take away is how great Black people are,” he said. “Sometimes we paint this picture that we’re very limited. But we are not limited at all.”

Roberson said he also hopes the show sparks dialogue for deeper conversations.

“Every show will not always end with the answers for everything,” Roberson said. “Sometimes the show’s discussions are just that. They’re discussions for us to explore together, for us to try to deconstruct those biases and for us to have those difficult conversations that make people uncomfortable. In being uncomfortable we find ways in which we can establish some building blocks to strengthen our understanding of how we can work together.” 

He encourages people to continue to do research and to continue to learn more about Black history on their own.

“We cannot teach you everything. That is not our job,” Roberson said. “Your job is to do the research and do the work on your own. We’re just here to maybe facilitate the conversations. The biggest personal takeaway is knowing and being OK that I don’t have to have all of the answers. Because just as other people are learning, so am I. I’m just here to light the fire.”

Wukie, who co-hosts [email protected] with Roberson, said the show allows her to be transparent about issues surrounding race on campuses, especially at Notre Dame, that sometimes are swept under the rug.

“It’s not just saying all the good, happy things about Notre Dame, but also where Notre Dame falls short, especially in diversity,” Wukie said. 

In regards to the #BlackFacts campaign, Wukie said she hopes it motivates people to do their own research and learn more about issues surrounding race.

“It’s really easy to just like things that are right in front of you, and it’s not always the easiest to go out and seek knowledge,” Wukie said. “I would hope that’s kind of what [email protected] brings out on people, is wanting to seek knowledge about things that aren’t always right in front of them. Racism isn’t going away anytime soon. The only way that we get towards a more equitable society is if people choose to educate themselves, so I hope that the podcast kind of does that.”

Wukie said she has appreciated the number of people who have reached out to get involved, and she said she’s been particularly inspired talking to Black alumni.

“Sometimes it’s frustrating as a student of color to go here and kind of see other students of color struggle, but then you hear stories about people who used to go here and how much they think the University has grown and what they went through and how different it is,” Wukie said. “Although they should have never had to go through those things, it kind of gives me hope that things have gotten better.” 

While the show provides critiques of Notre Dame, Wukie said she feels they have good intentions — she simply hopes to improve the culture of the University in any way she can.

“In loving this place so much, a part of that love should be wanting better for it and not just being complacent with how you found it,” she said. “I think Daelin Hayes the other day reposted ‘Leave the place better than you found it.’ And I think that’s all I would say: Even though we love Notre Dame, it’s in finding the flaws and trying to fix them is how we can love it back.”

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