BIWOC encourages women of color to recognize their worth, institute change

Miles Eackles

Black and Indigenous Women of Color Week has kicked off with its main purpose to empower women of color at a university where they are in the minority.

This week-long event, the first of its kind, was created by UT students to show that women of color matter and can attribute many accomplishments to society, said Sarah Ogunmuyiwa, philosophy and gender studies sophomore and event organizer.

Throughout the week, BIWOC will be hosting various events catered to minority women including seminars on mental health, physical health, sexual health and a vigil honoring trans women.

“Our motive for creating this week-long event is to highlight the experiences of women of color in every single aspect whether it’s physical or mental (health),” said Lynn Huynh, a business freshman who helped organize the week. “When it comes to diversity, it’s not just about representation, it’s also about empowerment. The experiences of women of color are very different from other women, so it’s important to have an event catered to us.”

Monday’s theme surrounded self-care tactics to combat stress amid a hectic finals season.

Nina Baily of BossBabes ATX, Rachel Green of Leadership Box and Rachelle Orbio of Samson Sagas facilitated a discussion about entrepreneurship and how to succeed in a white dominated business world in the Student Activity Center.

Onome Ayudo, a mathematics and textile junior who attended the event, said the small population of black students at UT has made it difficult to find students who share her ethnicity. She said she has had to seek out organizations that can provide this kind of community, but the search has been worthwhile.

“I’ve always grown up in predominately white areas, so coming to UT wasn’t that big of a change,” Ayudo said. “I still find that I’m one of the few black girls in my classrooms. It was a little disheartening at first to come to college and not get to meet students who had similar immigrant backgrounds.”

Ogunmuyiwa said the week is inspired by associate professor Natasha Tinsley’s Race, Gender, and UT class.

“Taking that class and learning about all the struggles that BIWOC face in academia made me want to create safe spaces on campus for those demographics,” Ogunmuyiwa said. “My friends and I have been meeting every week planning this week all semester. There’s no way this week would be here without all the work and support.”