“My Black is” is a simple, yet complex phrase — much like the concept of “blackness.”
For senior Chann Little, it is also the title of his recent video project that displays how black students on campus define their blackness in one word.
Little was inspired after seeing the phrase “my black is solid” printed on shirts that students wore during Black Solidarity day, a day-long event sponsored by the Center for Race, Ethnicity & Diversity Education (CREDE) for students who identify as black.
“‘My Black is’ is black people labeling themselves in positive ways,” Little said. “I just wanted to add on that and make it where we can reclaim our own blackness because I feel like society labels black people a lot.”
This project is featured on Little’s blog “Chann Daily,” which he began in November 2016. It features different sections of beauty, fashion and inspirational content. Little’s “My Black is” project launched as a new section of his blog: Daily Inspiration.
Little said he reached out to black students at Elon University through a group message of students of color and asked them if they could help him out with the project. About 20 students showed up the next day willing to share their definition of their blackness.
“Everybody defines their blackness in a different way, and I think that’s interesting because in society it feels like at times we are portrayed in the media — and just everyday life — as being lumped together and stereotypical,” Little said.
The words used in the video ranged from “knowledge” to “joy,” “unapologetic,” to “polarizing,” “enduring,” to “worthy.”
Sophomore Brigette Agbozo used the word “intricate” to describe her blackness. She chose this word because she believes there are several parts in how she chooses to express and love her blackness.
“Just like there are many layers to me, there are even more layers to my blackness,” Agbozo said. “As a first-generation American, my view is not typically celebrated, or, frankly, even considered. People usually lump me in the black American group.”
Though she explained that being grouped in the black American group is not inherently wrong, she said there is much more to her blackness and it has been a mission for her to let everyone know that she is Ghanaian.
Little hopes to break down barriers with his inspirational videos. He wants to cover different minorities and groups of people that do not have much representation on campus, such as socioeconomic and sexual orientation groups that differ in perspectives.
“I think that with any of the projects I am launching I just want my blog to be a platform for positivity and to give a lot of people a voice,” Little said. “A lot of my website is not about me, it is about other people and giving them the opportunity to say whatever they need to say and tell their own stories using different aspects of what I perceive as my brand.”
Students such as Agbozo believe that Little’s project brings a lot of unique, complex expressions of blackness together.
“I feel like it challenges everyone to confront the complexity within black and brown identities,” Agbozo said. “Movements like this challenge our preconceived notions and put a variety of black people at the forefront of something.”
Looking ahead, Little believes his projects and blog can be a platform for a wide range of people with differing backgrounds. He says projects such as these can help him develop as a person since he will be exposed to people of different races and perspectives.
“I just think that it will break down a lot more barriers. Getting to know more people with different backgrounds and their stories really softens people’s perceptions about other people,” Little said. “I think a lot of dehumanization happens in predominantly white culture on minority groups, which is because we don’t know each other well.”