Renegade. Coming 4.3.15 from Harvard Renegade on Vimeo.

About two weeks ago, this video surfaced on my Facebook newsfeed. It starts out with the definition of renegade and then proceeds to explain why renegade.

“Because there is only ONE tenured Latino professor. Because people dress up as my ethnicity for Halloween. Because there’s only one Asian American history class.”

What started as a one-minute and seven-second video became a photo campaign and ended in the official release of Renegade, a POC arts collective and online magazine started by students of color at Harvard. On their website, the mission statement is:

We are Renegade, an art and advocacy collective of Harvard student artists, writers, musicians, poets, activists, and thinkers who have come together in solidarity as people of color. Choosing not to forget is our first and most radical act.  We are rediscovering our identities as people of color on this campus by remembering our ancestors’ courageous stories and by dismantling the regimes of colonization and oppression still present at this university. Through creativity and collaboration, we empower individual voices and minds and place our expression at the center of campus discourse. Our coming together was inevitable, for the time has come when students of color will no longer be silenced.”

Hey look, it’s me!

Profile pictures on Facebook all started to change and “Because this is mine” was displayed proudly on top of them. In the photo campaign, students of color were asked to take a picture in a place on campus where they felt unsafe or uncomfortable, and then the words “Because this is mine” were put atop the image to reclaim the space as their own.

Eden Girma, Harvard Class of 2018
Jenny Gathright, Class of 2016
Moses Kim, Harvard Class of 2018
Edgar Garcia, Harvard Class of 2018

Soon after all these profile pictures started emerging, Renegade was officially launched. It’s been about two weeks since and already the Facebook group has 906 likes, articles have been shared and re-shared on my Facebook, and people are starting to talk about it both negatively and positively. Whether or not anyone sees Renegade as a good idea, it was only a matter of time until the students of color on this campus would make their voices heard. It’s only a matter of time until more students of color at other PWIs demand that their voices be heard, and I will be there to listen to their demands.

This is only the first article in this series focusing on POCs at PWIs. Stay tuned for coming issues highlighting initiatives similar to this occurring at other PWIs.

Check out Renegade’s online magazine here!

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