Women of colour are finally being recognised on US campuses

Black women are fighting their way to equality. Source: Shutterstock.com

US college campuses often seem dominated by white students while women of colour are pushed to the fringes of campus culture. These women are now taking matters into their own hands and fighting their way to equality.

Just look at the women who have set up a Greek life organization for women of colour called Sisters of Colour at Washington University.

Fraternities and sororities often get criticised for being elitist and for the privileged, leading senior Drea Gonzalez and sophomore Olivia Williams to set up a sisterhood for women who differ from this stereotype, reported Student Life.

The students set up Sisters of Colour after issuing a survey which found 54 percent of non-white women suffered microaggression during Greek life activities and 84 percent would benefit from a People of Colour group within the chapter.

“I often think that women of colour existing in Greek life isn’t talked about. It’s a much different experience than it is for people of colour who are in fraternities than it is to be [in] a sorority, and the way that you move through spaces are so different as a woman,” said Lizzie Franclemont, chapter representative for Delta Gamma at Washington University.

The students involved in Sisters of Colour believe this will make the student experience more inclusive for all students on campus and diversify Greek life for all.

Similar movements are occurring across the US. The University of Pennsylvania has just appointed Hayley Pilgrim as the president of the Graduate and Professional School Assembly (GAPSA), marking the first black woman to become president, according to The Daily Pennsylvanian.

“It kind of shows how women of colour are stepping into leadership roles because they’re finally getting the support to do so and the space to really express their thoughts and feelings,” Akudo Ejelonu, a GAPSA member said.

“It is an honor to be part of the continual wave of black women breaking down ceilings,” Pilgrim said.


And it’s not just race discrimination these students are tackling. Iowa State University welcomed a hijab-wearing model to take part in its annual fashion show for the first time this year.

Muslim women are underrepresented in almost all popular culture from films to fashion, so Khadija Ahmed was proud to represent girls like her studying at the university.

“It’s important to step aside stereotypes that… if we wear the hijab, we can’t do other things – besides wearing it,” Ahmed told the Iowa State Daily.

“I think bringing it into fashion and showing that we can style it with our outfits is a big step. And how it’s prevalent nowadays is that people are seeing that we are also showing our identity with our religion and it doesn’t stop us whatsoever with how we represent it and being ourselves at the same time.”

Ahmed wore sportswear designed by Apparel Merchandise and Design student, Rose Echard, including a specially-made athletic-ready hijab.

“I’m helping people step over those boundaries that hijab-wearing people can’t do modeling or fashion,” she said, adding she hopes her appearance encourages more girls to try out for the fashion show.

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