Ciera Murden: When a hashtag helps make a difference

August 7, 2019 - Ciera Murden

Every year, students will create a hashtag for their school and graduating year on Twitter to find other incoming freshmen. But how often do they all connect? As incoming freshmen with little to no guidance, it can be helpful to connect with upperclassmen. But navigating through a predominately white university as a black girl can be challenging to find others with whom you identify.
Fortunately, I have an older sister who attends MSU. She gave me tips on how to navigate through campus, beneficial organizations on campus to join and tips for scheduling classes. However, everyone doesn’t have that. And, sometimes even with my sister and I at the same school, I still find myself feeling lost and confused. That is one of the many reasons I created the hashtag #BlackGirlMSU.
It started with a Tweet saying, “I’m starting a #BlackGirlMSU thread (use the hashtag).” Then, I followed it up by introducing myself and stating my name and major.
Nothing could prepare me for the hundreds of positive responses I received from black girls just like me — freshmen to graduate students — looking to connect with other women of color on campus. Honestly, I did not expect anyone to comment on the hashtag; I just wanted to create a starting point for women of color to come together to make meaningful connections with others in their major.
I’ve always had a need to help others, and I find it very rewarding to help push people in the right direction. By creating this hashtag, black girls at MSU can find others on campus who look like them, share the same interests and even establish mentoring opportunities.

Since this hashtag went viral, there has been a group chat which has over 400 girls from different majors, ages and years in school. Having people who look like you, understand your background and support you by being there every step of the way makes navigating the ins and outs of college life much easier.

Ironically, this movement has helped me to find my own path at MSU. I hope that when I graduate, everyone on campus will keep the #BlackGirlMSU movement going, creating a lasting legacy.

So, what’s next?

After many discussions with my team and the participants of #BlackGirlMSU group chat, we have decided not to become a registered organization, but to continue to be a resource. We want to be able to direct anyone, not just incoming freshmen, to the already established, registered organizations on campus for students of color.

As we grow #BlackGirlMSU, we would like to create a safe space for black women to vent, relax, have a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. Additionally, we would like to focus on helping with academics by connecting people with study partners, others in their major or a tutor, if needed.

With the help of faculty, staff and members of the community, we will be able to ensure this movement continues to spread positivity.