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Allies & Advocates: Jordan Walters

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Name: Jordan Walters

Major: History/African & African Diaspora Studies Junior

Programs and activities: Afrikan American Affairs, Texas Blazers, One Texas Committee, Campus Climate Advisory Board, Warfield Center for African and African American Studies

Jordan Walters is the outgoing director of operations and current ad-hoc student adviser for Afrikan American Affairs, a student agency within the Multicultural Engagement Center that provides an inclusive space for leadership-development and community building for student advocates across campus. We virtually “sat down” with this Paris, Texas native to learn more about his advocacy work on campus and out in the community during this monumental turning point for the Black Lives Matter movement.

A cause worth fighting for...“The recent murder of George Floyd that has motivated global protests against police violence has mobilized me out of quarantine, in spite of the risks associated with COVID-19, and into action fighting alongside my siblings for justice and widespread, structural change.”

Building communities…“It is important to me that communities of color, as well as other marginalized communities, build symbiotic relationships with each other. How can my position aid the livelihoods of people that look like me or have struggles similar to mine? How can I put my background in the humanities into practice? What ways can I hold myself accountable and continue to decolonize, unlearn and learn? These are questions that I ask myself, questions that motivate me to lead and serve.”

Leading with passion…  “While working in Afrikan American Affairs, I have developed my ability to lead with passion, compassion and understanding. I have also learned a great deal about activism at the university and what it takes to create long-lasting change. Lastly, I have been empowered to set boundaries for myself and between those around me for the sake of simultaneously working for the collective and sustaining the individual.”

Knowledge is power… “The founders of Black Lives Matter, three Black women, were very intentional about their advocacy being rooted in an intersectional lens. Thus, conversations around Black Lives Matter must follow suit. What do I mean by an intersectional lens? Learning from the content produced by the Combahee River Collective, Kimberlé Crenshaw, bell hooks, Deborah K. King and countless others, means that when acknowledging one oppression, we must acknowledge all others, and the way they overlap and compound to create a variety of nuanced experiences.”

All about love… “I draw inspiration from a book titled ‘All About Love: New Visions’ by bell hooks. It has felt like a warm hug to help me along the way. Specifically, it has challenged me to better understand how my childhood and other experiences of my youth have impacted my current perceptions, and how to move forward with a love ethic that prioritizes the collective, community, accountability, forgiveness action and anti-racist/anti-sexist/anti-capitalist frameworks.”

Advice for student advocates… “I encourage students to get involved in the Multicultural Engagement Center and the Black Studies Department. These two spaces will provide you with the opportunity to build relationships with students, both undergrads and graduates, as well as faculty and staff who all will have a wealth of information and wisdom to offer. Additionally, the Multicultural Engagement Center has significant partnerships all across campus, the City of Austin and beyond, so being a part of this group means being able to connect with some of those partners, opportunities and resources.”

A message to the African American community… “I love you! I love you! I love you—and you matter! Here is a quote by Black Lives Matter Cofounder Patrice Cullors from “When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir.” It inspires me to press forward in the midst of trials.”

“And I knew it because I am the thirteenth-generation progeny of a people who survived the hulls of slave ships, survived the chains, the whips, the months laying in their own shit and piss. The human beings legislated as not human beings who watched their names, their languages, their Goddesses and Gods, the arc of their dances and beats of their songs, the majesty of their dreams, their very families snatched up and stolen, disassembled and discarded, and despite this built language and honored God and created movement and upheld love. What could they be but stardust, these people who refused to die, who refused to accept the idea that their lives did not matter, that their children’s lives did not matter?”