Some organizations serve an educational purpose, while some organizations serve the purpose of having fun and getting rid of stress. One group at Ohio University fulfills both purposes: Ebony Minds.
Ebony Minds is a student organization created by black women to not only further educate people about black women, but to include them in the discussion of other topics as well as be a safe space for black women to express how they feel about the area in which they live.
Shalyn Foster, a junior studying health services administration, is the vice president of Ebony Minds and got involved her sophomore year as the secretary of the organization.
“We broaden the scope of topics but then tie it back to black women,” Foster said.
Ebony Minds was the brainchild of Robyn Heard and Jazmyne Shaw, two former OU students who graduated last year. The women wanted to create a safe and informative space for black women that also wasn’t too serious.
Thus, in 2017, Ebony Minds was formed. From discussions of why it’s important to involve black women in voting to mental health days with facemasks, lip scrubs and hair oils, Ebony Minds is more than just the average conversation starter: it’s a spirited, fun-loving, educational engagement of minds and hearts.
Foster found the group at the Multicultural Student Expo, attended one meeting and immediately knew she had to be involved.
“It was really inviting,” Foster said. “I went to one meeting and loved it. No one was just there for a resume booster; they really all cared about it.”
The group meets every Tuesday and tries to provide every meeting with snacks and good music to get people excited about attending.
The group frequently hosts panels, such as “The black women’s agenda,” which focused on what causes black women should try to advance and who they should try to be. They also hosted a panel on assault, more for the underclassmen, led by upperclassmen to talk about how to be as safe as possible.
The group also hosts fun events, like its de-stressing self-care nights and the annual family reunion with soul food, music and bonding right around the end of the semester.
Though the organization was created by black women for black women, as Foster said, they try to broaden the scope of topics and tie it back to black women. This opens up the opportunity for men and allies of the black community to join as well.
“(People should) come to the meetings. Everyone should come,” Foster said. “Our goal is to be a safe space for everyone, so if you’re an ally and want to learn more about this, then come.”
There are no dues for the members of Ebony Minds because the group believes its cause is much deeper than money. Instead, to raise money for their organization in addition to their Student Activities Commission funding, the members run a concession stand for football games and collect 10% of the profits.
Right now, the group is working on throwing a new event for OU Moms Weekend: a black legacy brunch. It will center around how black women want to leave their legacy and inspire the next generation of black students.
Morgan Sanders, a third-year studying psychology, is the secretary of Ebony Minds and appreciates the concept and creativity behind the group.
“We’re big on self-love and self-appreciation, and even though we’re a women’s organization, we do have males that come to our meetings and give their perspectives on things to further frame our topics,” Sanders said.
Nikkiya Addison, a sophomore studying psychology and sociology-criminology, is the public relations chair and got involved with the organization through knowing the founders.
“Ebony Minds means the world to me,” Addison said. “It means black unity. It means black growth. It means there is a place where black women are not a minority on this campus.”
Ebony Minds currently has open board positions, such as creative director and the co-public relations chair, and is always looking to expand its safe space to anyone who wants to get involved.
Foster loves everything about Ebony Minds and believes it can have such a great impact on not only black women in Athens, but their allies as well.
“The impact is important,” Foster said. “Knowing that you have an impact on a subject, that’s so important, and a lot of people don’t realize how important it is until the meeting. It shows that we aren’t just doing it for fun because we like it. We’re doing it because it has a greater purpose.”
Photo by Nate Swanson.