After more than a year of travel, I settled down in Berlin to earn my Master in Public Policy.
I was excited to finally live out two life-long dreams: to live and work abroad and to build a career in policy.
While my university provided the theoretical framework necessary for an understanding of public policy, I was shocked to find that Europeans tend to believe we live in a post-racial society, that racism was ‘an American problem’, and that addressing systemic racism in anyway was taboo. In my first year, I did my best to address this issue with the administration and the community, but ultimately, it took the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement to buoy our efforts. Suddenly, BLM was global, not only in solidarity, but in the work to look at racism everywhere.
Thanks to a fantastic community here, partnerships with institutions such as the Center for Intersectional Justice, and tenacity, I’m proud to say that I am leaving landscape of Diversity&Inclusion at the Hertie School drastically different from when I started.
To meet the moment, I founded the student policy and advocacy group, SHIELD, for students of color and of diverse global origin.
Make the Hertie School a leader amongst German and European universities in addressing issues related to race / ethnicity / global origin and its intersections and pushing for equitable and inclusive policy changes.
SHIELD was founded to provide two major services to The Hertie School:
Propose policy solutions to issues of Diversity&Inclusion at the Hertie School.
Create a community for students of color and diverse global origin and host events to educate and discuss progress for diverse identities.
the inclusion of race as a protected characteristic
Previously, race as not included in the university's grievance procedure discrimination and not included in the Diversity&Inclusion plan.
Through SHIELD, the voices of students of color were finally heard.
From an audit of the diversity level of course content, a diversity matrix to rank universities, and research on recruitment of African students, SHIELD works to illuminate policy solutions for students of color.
created a community
Before SHIELD, there was no organization at the university to address issues related to race and global origin. The topic of race was, as it remains in Germany, taboo, even as students of color faced racism on campus and in the city.
Now, SHIELD offers a space for students of color.
partnership with university administration
I designed SHIELD to advocate for policy solutions. Critically, this meant we were an exterior organization to the administration, but also not a purely activist group. To the grievances we had, we developed policy solutions — and the administration took notice.
Our group now meets regular with the Acting President to propose solutions and speak about what the administration can do for the student body in a completely cooperative relationship.
started a conversation
Before living and working abroad, American racism was the only form I truly knew or understood. While the systemic nature may change in each country or region, I have found that racism, especially anti-Black racism, is prevalent throughout and I grew tired of the thought that it was 'only an American problem'.
This small piece of activism is what I leave behind.
created a lasting infrastructure
Students of color in PWIs often struggle to create steady progress as students who carry the movement graduate and move on. This problem is even more pronounced at The Hertie School with its high turnover (12-24 months), low number of students of color, and cultural bias against these issues.
By creating a robust infrastructure for the club (including bylaws, processes & prodecures, appointing alumni chairs and a faculty chair, I'm proud to say SHIELD will live on after I leave.)
articles & press coverage.
feature in Bloomberg
Berlin spat shows German students facing racism lack support
2019 course content diversity audit
SHIELD conducted an audit of Hertie's required courses to show more work is needed to diversify policy academia and make our required work more relevant to an international student body
op-ed in governance post
The COVID pandemic illuminates the need for a global understanding of policy