The Underground, the Black Student Union’s new digital creative space, launched into action in the summer of 2016. The creator of The Underground, Aaron Barron ’18, described the site as a showcase of black identity at Stanford and as “an ongoing project to highlight student achievement, struggle and just reality.”
The Underground website features a variety of creative works, including written pieces, collections of photographs and many other forms of art. Each piece of work is centered around the theme of the black experience at Stanford, and each student’s own personal journey and experiences.
“[The Underground] is a digital space for students of the diaspora or who relate to the struggles of the diaspora to talk about the truth, for them to talk about who they are, where they come from and how they’re adjusting to their lives at Stanford,” Barron said. “So it’s kind of celebrating the reality of being a black individual at Stanford, how it is adjusting to social implications, how it is living in a pretty privileged environment and how you adjust to that.”
Barron highlighted one piece in particular featured on The Underground, “Being a Black Women in Tech,” written by Lindsey Redd ’17. The piece focuses on her experiences working at Silicon Valley and how the murders of Alton Sterling affected her and her professional experiences. “It should bring a larger notice to the communities and realities we deal with,” Barron said.
Another contributor to The Underground is Musila Munuve ’16, who created a photo series to showcase people from his home country Kenya.
“[The goal of the series] was to show the beauty of my country, to create photos of different scenes and different places for a country that’s not always seen in a positive way,” Munuve said.
Munuve has plans to continue to contribute to The Underground with a new photo series that will focus on the theme of “the beauty of natural hair” and “black women who wear their hair natural.”
Barron created the website only a few months ago in order to showcase the black experience at Stanford to those outside of the community.
“A big issue I felt at Stanford was that students here are engaging with amazing resources, whether it’s through the black community services center, whether it’s the center for African studies, different clubs…” Barron said. “People are engaging in those things but I feel like the the larger community isn’t really getting to know about them. I felt like there’s great resources, but there should be a central place, where students, like students at my high school, can be like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s what it’s like to be a black student at Stanford, or that’s what it’s like to engage in a welcoming community.’ We have this great environment that’s unique here and I think other schools should really be able to see that.”
With the website in its beginning stages, The Underground is welcoming and accepting of new content and contributors.
“It is really the people who relate to the struggle of the diaspora, who can read these stories and experience things like that. The site, at its core, is about being black at Stanford. And if you feel that you relate to that experience, then by all means, you should talk about that,” Barron said.
While The Underground currently focuses on individual projects, the website has bigger goals in mind.
“As time goes on,” Barron continued, “we’re going to start talking about some very real things, some very strong issues we have with Stanford. We love our school, but we want to have effectual change; that doesn’t happen without conflict. We will definitely be talking a lot about political and social issues. It’s all from a place of wanting the best for our school.”
Contact Arielle Rodriguez at arielle3 ‘at’ stanford.edu.