Register for the 2021 Black Student Caucus
Every Saturday in April!
This April, MYAN is hosting a multi-day virtual caucus for Black Student Unions and Black students from across Maine. Each Saturday of the month (four events in total), Black youth in Maine will have the opportunity to collaborate and learn from one another and four incredible keynote speakers.
For and By Black Youth in Maine
Explore themes of activism, self-expression, and Black joy hand-in-hand with lead event organizers Christina Donato and Laura Iteka, and high school student facilitators.
Each Saturday is dedicated to one of four main topics: Black Excellence, Black Self Preservation and Wellness, Shades of Blackness, and Black Expression.
This space is intended to foster networks and dialogues between Black youth in middle school, high school, college, and out of school. We additionally welcome Maine high school graduates who are pursuing plans for themselves outside of post-secondary education.
At every event, participants will be entered into a raffle to win gifts from the following Black owned businesses:
Your Keynote Speakers
Nyamuon Nguany Machar
Day One: Saturday April 3rd
Black Expression is a revolutionary act which we all participate in; it is how we as individuals express ourselves in everyday life through the outfits we decide to wear, activism, journaling, and so on! It is what sustains us, makes us unique but also what unites us. Jean Wakati will be kicking us off with discussions about how being brought up and/or living in Maine shapes how we choose to take in and show up in this world. We want this session to address the influences of “black culture” – whether it is through hair, dance, literature, poetry, art, etc., the different systems that attempt to impede this practice of survival, and how we overcome them.
Shades of Blackness
Day Two: Saturday April 10th
This session will dive into conversations about what blackness “looks” like to each of us. Touching upon topics such as the division in the black community by exploring experiences of continental and non-Continental Africans, and colorism. Ochan Ogak, another graduate from Casco Bay High School who resides in New York working with fashion and photography, will lead us into a conversation around how shades of blackness impact our interpretation of femininity and masculinity, as well as how that affects the LGBTQ community, ideas of work ethic, the labor force and prospects, and pleasure.
Self Preservation & Wellness
Day Three: Saturday April 17th
Cosimo Donato, graduate from Portland High School will build on the Black Expression and Shades of Blackness sessions, by asking us how some of the aforementioned topics impact our: self preservation, the stigma around mental health, self-care, our perceptions of vulnerability and pain, as well as our experiences within the American health care industry. In hopes of discussing self preservation and wellness, we want to discuss how it’s important within the black community and how we as individuals can contribute to our own self preservation and emotional health.
Day Four: Saturday April 24th
Led by Nyamuon Nguany Machar, this session explores what these terms mean, personally. They will highlight the pressures behind “Black Excellence” and the consequent manifestation of imposter syndrome. In addition, we will explore social media’s influences on defining Black Excellence in relation to material achievements, appearance, and clout. Most importantly, this session will emphasize taking up space, celebrating our victories (big and small), and encourage us all to keep the black girl magic and black boy joy going.
Why the Caucus Matters
A number of Black students have been gathering in their communities and schools through racial affinity groups and through their Black Student Unions. This caucus highlights the work that folks are doing, to celebrate the milestones achieved, and for Black youth to connect across the state of Maine. This is especially important for Black youth who are in schools without BSUs or existing support for racial affinity groups yet!
During this event, Black youth will build up their collective sense of power and collaborate to address root causes systemic injustice. Black students will also learn from and teach one another about organizing skills, shared knowledge and experiences, and empower each other to fight for/advocate for racial equity in our education systems.
Where are we hosting the event?
The caucus will be hosted on a secure virtual conference platform, called Whova. Whova can be accessed via web browser or through their Apple/Android app. Participants will be able to attend the event, build out a personal profile, and interact with other attendees on Whova. Sign up for the event through Whova and begin exploring!