A group of BYU students created a TikTok page called The Black Menaces to portray the experiences of Black people at BYU by sharing Q&A videos of people on campus.
The page, started on Feb. 8, has already amassed 211,300 followers and 6.7 million likes on their videos as of March 15.
The creators of the account make videos asking students around campus to answer questions regarding the culture around Black individuals at BYU, such as how their dating experience has been or what they would change for the better about BYU.
The group consists of five students: Rachel Weaver, Nathanael Byrd, Sebastian Stewart-Johnson, Kylee Shepherd and Kennethia Dorsey. Each are administrators on the account and do the editing, filming and interviewing.
Byrd, Black Menaces co-creator, said the account wasn’t created out of malice. “It’s done with love and with a desire to create positive change for everyone,” Byrd said.
He also said he hopes individuals at BYU will take time to educate themselves on diversity and inclusion.
“It might be a scary thing to delve into, but there are so many different resources available,” Byrd said.
Byrd referenced the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit organization created by lawyer Bryan Stevenson dedicated to combatting inequality in the U.S., as a source for reports about racism in America.
“They can also ask questions and have those discussions with peers,” Byrd said. “If they’re genuine, people will always be willing to answer their questions.”
Co-creator Stewart-Johnson said they are trying to change the ideology surrounding what a “menace” is.
“We wanted to make it about being a reformer, somebody that changes the status quo for better and pushes on the comfort of everybody to create progress,” Stewart-Johnson said.
Stewart-Johnson said one of his favorite things about the experience is meeting other people.
“I’m grateful for the range in which we can reach people,” he said. “That possibility to change how people view race and how we can show the experience of being isolated.”
Weaver said she wants people to share more Black stories. “When you have the opportunity to learn a story that a Black person shares, take that privilege and use that to help incite change,” Weaver said. “That’s something all BYU students can do.”
Weaver also said it is difficult when her experiences with racism or ignorance are not validated.
“Believe Black people when they share things with you,” Weaver said. “People have made us feel like our experiences are not as big of a deal as they are. Uplift the narratives that they share with you.”
Their videos and more information can be found on their Instagram page.