I was fortunate enough to sit down and have an interview with Gabby Ballard earlier this month. Gabby Ballard is currently an undergraduate at MIT, class of 2019. She is the co-chair of the Black Women’s Alliance (BWA), who is working to provide a forum to address the needs and concerns of Black women undergraduate students at MIT.
During our interview, we were able to talk about Gabby’s activist work. Her desire is to create an inclusive environment for black women on MIT campus. This includes social programs, events/parties, and partnering with other student organizations on campus who share similar goals. She’s found that her main struggle right now is trying to include other groups of people in the movement to support her cause. For instance, BWA was initially supposed to include black men to further promote the importance of black women’s rights, but advertising the association to that demographic would take away from the work it could designate toward supporting black women.
We were also able to talk more about what inspired Gabby to start her activism work. Gabby grew up in an area where there wasn’t too much diversity in her community, so her parents imbued in her the idea that other people will grow up having different perspectives from her — yet she should respect them all the same. She brought this viewpoint with her to MIT, but she found that not all people were being respected there, and in many other places around the US. She wanted to make a change in the MIT community starting with the demographic she most identifies with. For example, from her experience doing debate in high school, she was always told to try and break down the systematic barriers which prevented others from participating in debate styles. She took this perspective and applied it throughout her life, and especially to the BWA organization once she became co-chair. She also has plans to apply for executive positions in MIT’s Black Student Union (BSU).
Lastly, we talk about Gabby’s visions of the future once her activism work is successful. She stated that her goal will most likely be accomplished through education. Gabby said that with more diversity in the teaching staff of school and university, children will grow up understanding the different perspectives of society and be more accepting and understanding of others subconsciously. Her headline for the victory would be the following: Super Schools: America’s Education System on the Rise
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