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Cultural Significance

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Umoja Black Graduation 2021 Theme: "Black Grads Matter: Always have, Always Will" 

Black people around the world have used identity affirmations as acts of resistance. When these affirmations breach the public domain they articulate and structure as racial pride as a point of solidarity, which is indicative of growing Black consciousness. These affirmations become acts of collective resistance. Racial affirmation that breaches public discourse has worked to unify the African Diaspora, connecting our racialized struggle against worldwide anti-Black oppression that sparks transformative action, and galvanized resources. Racial declarations that reach public consumption at their core theorize and utilize Blackness as a necessary counter to anti-Black racism. The 21st century is marked by upheaval and reconfiguration of anti-Black racism that is recalibrating inequity and justifies unequal power relations. Historically, Blackness in American culture is associated with sub-standard, unworthy, lazy, ignorant, not quite human. 

The Umoja: Black Graduation Celebration is a declarative racial affirmation given publicly to support students' call-out and push back against anti-Black racism on Historically White Colleges and Universities throughout the nation and the resurgence of anti-Black racism throughout the world. The theme honors the humanizing and unifying call of Black Lives Matter while acknowledging the legacy of self-determination for which Black people have consistently struggled. Our theme aligns the celebration of ISU Black graduates with the demands for respect, vitality, and vigor of Blackness articulated by the revolutionary acts of students, groups, communities, and individuals. We use the theme to assert that the only thing wrong with Black folk is the common-sense assumptions that would have us, and others believe that something is inherently wrong with Black folks. 

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