Campus News

UW-Madison alumni create hashtag to recognize black graduate students

As UW-Madison aims to increase diversity on campus, former Badgers are working to commemorate minority students pursuing higher education across the country.

The #BlackandHooded hashtag was created by Anthony Wright and Brian Allen, two UW-Madison alumni looking to celebrate the accomplishments of black graduate students while also addressing stereotypes surrounding black people in hoodies.

“Initially, I wanted to create a hashtag that juxtaposed what is now the ‘negative’ imagery of black people in hoodies to black people in their master’s and doctoral hoods,” Wright said. “With what has been brewing within our social and political climate, I thought it would be cool to redefine [what type of] ‘hood’ people associate with black people.”

To the surprise of Wright and Allen, the hashtag went viral after black students all over the country shared their graduation photos with the hashtag on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

“Celebrating black accomplishments is always important in my opinion,” Wright said. “[The Black and Hooded hashtag] just serves as a reminder to some and an eye-opener for others, that black people are more than the negative images displayed on television and that we are and will continue to make positive contributions to society.”

Wright says it is important to not only celebrate current black undergraduate and graduate students, but to promote minority representation in higher education overall.

“During my time in undergrad, I didn't have that type of representation and it almost deterred me from applying [to graduate school] at all,” Wright said. “Seeing people [who look] like you in any educational or professional space is important in planting the seed of believing you can be there.”

According to statistics from Academic Planning and Institutional Research at UW-Madison, between the fall of 2008 and the fall of 2017, the number of graduate/clinical doctorate students who identified as African-American at UW-Madison increased from 363 students to 404 students. In addition, African-American graduate students now account for 3.5 percent of all graduate/clinical doctorate students at UW-Madison.

#BlackandHooded began as a hashtag to recognize black students who have received their master’s degree, but it has since progressed into a movement. Wright and Allen created a #BlackandHooded website, designed #BlackandHooded apparel and started a scholarship fund for black scholars.

Wright hopes #BlackandHooded will inspire black students to accomplish their goals in academia and in life.

“I hope [the hashtag] motivates people to continue to work hard at achieving their dreams, whatever those may be,” Wright said. “Regardless of if higher education is their thing or not, they can look at the images featured on the #BlackandHooded website and feel a sense of pride in being black.”

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