UT student showcases black student diversity through Four Point Five blog

Elizabeth Hlavinka

On a campus of more than 53,334 students, it can be easy for the voices of the 2,000 black students to be silenced by the majority.

Advertising sophomore Langston Dillard is working to change that.

This month, Dillard created The Four Point Five blog, a site that tells the stories of black students within the campus’s 4.5 percent minority. Dillard initially started the blog for a public relations course, but plans to continue updating the website with new portraits and profiles regularly.

Dillard said the blog’s mission is to showcase diverse experiences within UT’s black community. As a minority, black students are often underrepresented on campus and can be reduced to a number. Dillard said his blog aims to deconstruct the universal black narrative in order to give others a better understanding of the black student perspective.

“There’s not one way to think about being black — there’s not a single story to be told,” Dillard said. “That’s why I’m doing it. I think often there are voices that are louder than others.”

Public relations lecturer David Junker said Dillard’s blog stood out from other submissions. While other students featured the best brunch, queso or taco places in Austin, Dillard chose to write about an issue affecting thousands of college students. 

“This is what’s beneath that abstract number — the life beneath it,” Junker said. “These stories, if not told here, are left untold.”

Dillard said he was inspired to create the blog from his own experiences at UT. After transferring from UTSA in the fall, he noticed a lack of diversity on campus. Walking into a class or standing in front of the tower, he often realized he was the only black person in sight. Dillard said he hopes the blog can give others a frame of reference for understanding his experience.

Thus far, Dillard has featured three black students on campus, giving each their own webpage, photo and interview shared on the blog. Dillard featured corporate communications sophomore Kelly Nwonuma, who shared her ambitions to go to law school and to be an advocate for students with special needs, a dream inspired by her own autistic brothers. Nwonuma, who is also a part of spirit and academic groups on campus, said she doesn’t limit herself to one identity and that Dillard’s blog helps to spotlight that. 

“I tend to stray away from only identifying as one thing,” Nwonuma said. “I’m a multi-faceted person, as I think everybody is. While I do identify [as] a black, African-American woman, I’m so much more than that.”

Dillard said he includes himself in his reporting in an attempt to bring readers into the conversation. That way, the pieces are more inclusive for the audience. 

In an interview with music production junior Dashon Moore, for example, he shared Moore’s success as an entrepreneur, but also revealed his own nervousness in interviewing him, and admitted to getting sidetracked within their conversation. Moore said speaking with Dillard helped him become more conscious of his relationship with the black community. 

“Though I can relate to some of the things they go through, we don’t have the same story,” Moore said. “[The Four Point Five] is about giving a voice to the diversity within that
4.5 [percent.]”