A group of Master of Business Administration students dressed in all black to demonstrate their solidarity with black victims of police brutality during two gatherings at the McDonough School of Business on Oct. 6.
The students engaged in two moments of silence at 12:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to accommodate students’ different schedules.
Police brutality was brought to the forefront of the national consciousness when Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby shot Terence Crutcher on Sept. 16 and police officers shot Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte on Sept. 20 sparking national outrage.
The protest, called the McDonough Blackout Initiative, was sponsored by the Georgetown Black MBA Association, diversity network the Consortium for Graduate Study and Management and the MBA Student Government Association.
The Blackout Initiative was inspired by similar demonstrations at MBA programs across the country, including the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, New York University’s Stern School and Columbia University’s Columbia Business School.
According to Black MBA Association President Jonathan Owhe Jr. (GRD ’17), the initiative aims to show that members of the Georgetown MBA community stand in solidarity for victims of police brutality.
“What we have recently seen in the MBA community and also in the U.S. in general is organizations coming forward and trying to show the police brutality that is current across America is not right and needs to be addressed,” Owhe said.
The MSB administration supported the demonstration. Interim Dean of the McDonough School of Business Rohan Williamson said the event was a constructive way of examining police brutality.
“It is not surprising that our students have elected to confront a difficult issue in a positive way that helps to bring our greater community together,” Williamson wrote in an email to MSB faculty and staff supporting the initiative. “Georgetown University has long valued fighting for social justice, being at the forefront of important national issues, and living as women and men for others.”
MBA Student Government Association Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion Aisha Saber (GRD ’17) said the Georgetown MBA students joined with other MBA programs in promoting the #MBAsOpenUp campaign on Twitter, using the hashtag to spread awareness of injustice toward the black community.
Saber said the MBA Student Government Association stands against racial injustice.
“We strongly believe in the fragility and preciousness of every person’s life,” Saber wrote in the email to the McDonough community inviting students and faculty to take part in the protest. “Therefore, we endeavor to protest the killings of these unarmed human beings.”
In addition to joining the #MBAsOpenUp campaign, Owhe said Georgetown MBA student groups would be hosting community service events aimed at opening dialogue between police and local Washington, D.C. communities.
“We plan to have a community service event that will be more so related to where we can bring an awareness to police brutality and try to help out the African-American community,” Owhe said.
Owhe said he was pleased with the progress Georgetown has made so far in addressing racial injustices.
“I think Georgetown has come a long way,” Owhe said. “The things that we have seen the Georgetown community doing with reparations and also with the support we received when we were trying to launch this event has been amazing and shows Georgetown’s community is aware and is supportive of us.”
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