Recently, we checked up on Cheyenne Hoffman, a sophomore student in the journalism department, who’s planning big things with a revival of UT’s Black publication, Black Ink. An energetic and ambitious sophomore, Cheyenne hopes to galvanize the Black community at UT and in Austin to tell our stories and champion our leaders.
BMC: What was The Griot all about?
C: The Griot was a physical newspaper that was made by the National Association of Black journalists on UT’s campus, I believe in the eighties, I’m not sure what year exactly, because some of them felt like they were not being hired by the Daily Texan. So they decided to make their own newspaper. They came out with their own publication each semester that covered issues on UT’s campus and the Black community in Austin, and just kind of kept the community together. So then around the early nineties it went out of publication and then UT’s multicultural information and engagement center brought back a newsletter called ‘Black Ink’ in ’95 or so and kind of picked up where The Griot left off. Then that, in early 2000s went away too, and so now we’re going to bring it back again, as Black Ink, a digital publication.
BMC: So you said the original newspaper started in the eighties, do you think the environment has changed since then? Why do you think there’s a need for a publication like Black Ink today?
C: Well I think it’s primarily a necessity because I think there’s a lot of news in UT’s Black community and Austin’s black community that just don’t get published and doesn’t get any recognition. And not even just in Austin just in America in general. I don’t think that there’s necessarily a discrepancy with Black journalists on the Daily Texan’s staff now. But personally I felt like I was kind of – I was kind of put off by the Daily Texan. And I don’t know if it was because of race, I don’t want to assume that because The Daily Texan does have black staff but I think, I just think it’s important for UT’s Black community to be educated about the issues that are going on UT’s campus that are otherwise unnoticed.
BMC: What are some examples of that?
C: Within the University last year there was a 44% budget in the African Diaspora studies program and that’s not even something I knew about, I went to a lecture series and learned about that there. Even UT’s history with Black students, like the Heman Sweatt symposium. There’s a lot of racist history at UT that I didn’t know about. And I feel like things like these aren’t things we should necessarily complain about, but it’s definitely something
BMC: So talk a little bit about what we have to look forward to in Black Ink.
C: I have my little notebook that I carry with me to all my classes. It’s really beat up because sometimes I’ll be in class and I’ll have an idea and write it down. But I have all my ideas in here. So basically what I envision it to be is, Black news and entertainment feature stories to educate students on what’s going on in UT and Austin. But I also want it to be entertaining, I don’t want people to get bored. Poets or artists can submit their content and have it put up, or people who write essays or short stories, comics. I went to a talent show in the beginning of this year and there’s so many cool talents that a lot of kids have and I feel like they don’t get the notice they deserve. If this is something you’re passionate about, we’ll put it up there. A lot of people have come from primarily white high schools or just surroundings in general, and they come to UT and then they have problems going in the X lounge because they’ve never been around Black people before so we’ll do editorials on how that feels. Like the “oreo” debate. It’s something that I think a lot of students here deal with. Because a lot of people in Texas grew up in the suburbs where there are a lot of white people, so it can be a culture shock. And the other way around, like students growing up in primarily black neighborhoods and then coming here. I also think we can show praise to our leaders on campus. The BSA president last year Kristen Thompson, she’s like my favorite person, she’s really ambitious, she’s on the student government now, she’s university-wide rep, she’s an engineering major, she’s really smart and dedicated, and I feel like she doesn’t get the recognition she deserves. And I’m sure there are plenty of other people who deserve the same.
BMC: When do you hope to launch?
C: We are hoping for next semester, but that’s kind of tentative. We have this entire semester and summer to plan so hopefully next semester it will come out. Which will be good because it will be right around election season.
BMC: If students want to get involved, what can they do?
C: We are a registered student organization now, it’s called the Black Ink Association and we have an email address: Blackinkpublication@gmail.com. We welcome any UT student, regardless of race or major. So anyone who wants to get involved, like they have a music blog, or want to be a photographer, or maybe a comic artist, or even if they just want to occasionally write columns, anyone is welcome. We have a permanent staff, and to join that there’s a little application you just fill out and submit a piece of your original work and one of the editors will look over it and decide where you best fit in. But it’s pretty open.