Using TikToks shared on their Instagram story, Bowdoin’s Athletes of Color Coalition (AoCC) is celebrating Black History Month by highlighting different Black stories, broadcasting Black accomplishments and pointing out the propagation of Black stereotypes.
“We wanted to focus on acknowledging people of color and Black people’s stories,” Angelina Mayers ’23, one of the AoCC’s social media coordinators, said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “So that’s what we’ve been doing with the TikToks that have been educational and tidbits of stories that you’ve never heard before.”
In the past, the AoCC hasn’t played as prominent a role in Black History Month programming at Bowdoin, but with the expansion of their social media presence in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, they now feel that they have the means to do so.
“Last year, I don’t remember doing that much,” Cyndie Martin ’22, co-Vice President of the AoCC, said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “I think the social media presence really grew over the summer, and it’s been larger than before. This is a pretty new thing.”
Equipped with a larger platform, the AoCC is aiming to reach an audience beyond Bowdoin’s student body.
“We’re focused on the entirety of the Bowdoin community, including alumni, and not just student-athletes. I think it’s important for all people on campus to be a part of what’s going on,” Mayers said.
“Education can prevent a lot of incidents on campus,” she added.
“There’s information that’s right at their fingertips, and we’re just trying to make that more accessible,” Martin said. “It’s cool stories and interesting stories, too. It doesn’t always have to be like a depressing thing that happened in the past in order to learn something new.”
However, education is not the only goal behind this programming. Mayers emphasized that the AoCC also wants to celebrate Black culture.
“February is People of Color’s month, Black History Month,” Mayers said. “And we wanted to celebrate ourselves.”
“A lot of the time what we do on Instagram is…celebrating accomplishments and culture of all identities, but specifically during Black History Month we decided to focus on Black culture,” Martin said.
But Mayers emphasized that the conversations started by these TikToks should not end after they disappear on Instagram.
“Another goal is to make everything that we do now a current conversation, an ongoing conversation,” Mayers said. “It shouldn’t be just a one-month thing. Everybody should be constantly participating in conversations of race.”
Both Mayers and Martin stressed that the conversations need to continue throughout the semester, and these Instagram stories are just one way to start them.
“I think that a lot of people in the Bowdoin community right now are definitely doing their best trying to educate themselves about topics that they don’t know,” Martin said. “But I definitely think that there’s still a long way to go.”
“[These TikToks are] a win-win for everybody,” Mayers said. “Because even if you may not feel like you’re gaining anything from it, you are, because you’re educating yourself and that’s what we’re here at Bowdoin to do.”