People responded positively towards the Brigham Young University Magazine story titled “Black at BYU,” the first ever of its kind.
The story features Black students, alumni, faculty and staff at BYU and can be found on pages 20-27 of the Fall 2020 issue. It came out after the stretching and awakening year learning about the Black experience both in the United States and BYU.
“To be honest, everything that we’ve heard, a 99% of it has just been very very positive,” explained Peter Gardner, the BYU Magazine Editor and author of the story. “People are really grateful to those who are willing to participate and share their stories in an open vulnerable kind of way.”
Karmen Kodia, a recent BYU graduate in communications who was featured in the magazine, described that she was grateful to have been able to share her story as a Black student at BYU to inspire others — even though it wasn’t easy.
“It’s a tough topic,” Kodia admitted. “(Gardner) asked me hard questions, questions that I didn’t even, hadn’t even thought about.”
When Gardner explained how the story came to be, he mentioned working with BYU Communications and the Race, Equity and Belonging Committee to find individuals to interview. He also said he used a different process to write the story compared to a traditional story.
“It seemed important to our whole group that this story be told through their experiences,” explained Gardner. “Instead of doing a lot of writing, it was really just quotes from the interview.”
Above all else, the story proved to be a growing experience for Gardner, Kodia and many more. BYU saw a flood of positive comments on their Instagram post about the magazine.
“Try to get a feel for what it’s like to be in somebody else’s shoes, I know that I learned so much,” stated Gardner.
Even though Gardner said BYU magazine doesn’t have any specific plans to do another article like this one right now, the idea isn’t too far gone.
”The response has told us that there is an interest to having more diverse voices in the magazine,” said Gardner. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see more people of color and just diversity of all sorts within the magazine,” admitted Gardner.
“It’s overdue, honestly, but you know there’s always a first time for everything,” said Kodia. ”I’m just grateful that BYU is taking a second to drive in that direction.”