Photo submitted by Brianna Jackson
Brianna Jackson is the winner of Student Life’s Get Out and Vote Challenge.
Student Activities Coordinator Tonny Yang said he wanted to educate students about voting and its importance. “I liked Brianna’s strong passion and willingness to educate students about voting,” said Yang.
Jackson, speaking from Minneapolis College campus with her mask on in a Zoom interview, said she is studying apparel technologies.
No stranger to Tik Tok, Jackson felt right at home creating a video for the contest. “I mean, I’m usually on Tik Tok anyway because it’s just a fun outlet, something to do during this pandemic in a way to kind of connect with people through videos,” said Jackson.
She has focused on doing more Tik Tok videos with positive, uplifting messages, “I usually do cosplay and anime videos on Tik Tok so I’m trying to stray away from that and do more biblical Tik Toks,” said Jackson. “I’m a part of the Christian group [Christian Student Association] on campus here and I’m also a campus ministry intern down the street at First Baptist Church.”
Jackson was surprised to hear from Yang. “I was already having a bad day that day and it made my day better cause I was just in such a bad mood and I read my emails and it’s like ‘You won the Tik Tok!’ and I’m like I won the Tik Tok? You know how many people are on Tik Tok?”
Jackson reflected on the Black community’s fight to obtain voting rights and said she wants their voices to be heard. “It’s basically like an ancestral right to me in the sense [that my] ancestors as Black people fought for us to vote,” said Jackson. “[Those ancestors had] been pushed aside. They’d been told that they can’t vote. They’d been given all these different excuses as to why they [couldn’t] vote, and it’s like, we’re people too. Just because we have a darker skin tone doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be able to vote.”
Jackson has noticed that some of her peers lack faith in the current political process and climate and do not want to vote. “Considering all of that history, it kind of breaks my heart to see people in, like, Gen Z say, ‘Oh well, my vote doesn’t matter,’ just because it doesn’t go in the direction they want it to [go],” said Jackson. “Like I said in my video, ‘Your vote can sweep the entire election. Your one vote could change who wins the election. As Gen Z we have all of these opinions so why not use your power to share your opinion. Go out and vote.’”
Jackson said she finds it disturbing that race relations have not improved in these past four years. But she hopes to see things change in the next four. “I hope that more people that aren’t people of color help this movement of debunking racism,” she said. “I hope that more people get educated and pass that [education] onto their kids so that when they grow up they can teach their kids, and their kids can go make friends without having to be like, ‘Oh, that’s my Black friend.’ No, that’s just my friend. It might take longer than four years. It might take another century, but at least [we’ll be] making progress.”
In November, Student Life hosted a Humanize My Hoodie Ally workshop online event. Jackson was inspired. “In the upcoming year, I’m hoping to have more things like the Humanize My Hoodie event and more discussions about advocacy.”
[[Read: Minneapolis College hosts Humanize My Hoodie Ally workshop]]
Although she said that she enjoyed the event, the subject matter was nothing new to Jackson. “I already live that experience everyday as a Black person, especially as a Black female. You’re sexualized for what you wear [while] just minding your own business.”
She said that she especially liked hearing the Black male perspective on wearing hoodies and being judged for it just because they’re Black. “It’s a piece of clothing, but that piece of clothing can be identified as either a weapon, or as a piece of clothing. [It] just matters who’s looking at it,” said Jackson.
After her mother passed away last year, Jackson moved in with her grandparents. “It’s been an adjustment,” she said, “because I’m so used to being with my mother.”
Jackson added that she hopes to graduate within the next four years, but said her plans have been pushed back because of COVID. “Well, all the things that have been going on in 2020 have really affected me because for me and my family, we’re already like in the [low-income] class, and it’s hard enough to wait to see if we’re going to get another stimulus check.”
Jackson said that she came to a point where she was discouraged and uncertain. “You know, in 2020 it’s just been like a big slap in the face cause it’s like we were doing good then COVID hit in March. I was in school at that time, so I’m like what am I supposed to do now?” said Jackson.
Her faith, and perhaps, her mother helped her recover. “I was at my lowest point, like losing my motivation to do fashion, and then I kind of just got some kind of weird message sent to me. I don’t know if it was my mother trying to be like, ‘Get your butt up! Stay headstrong and like, Go!’ Or if it was like, I don’t know, some kind of spiritual thing, but I just decided, you know what, it may not be perfect, but you just have to keep trying, [even] if it takes like three or five times, just keep trying, so I kept doing the fashion program, and I’ve just been doing much better ever since.”
Although the past couple of years have been challenging, Jackson said that she plans to continue to keep moving forward. “2020, [has] been really hard, but I feel like if we give up there’s no point in trying to keep complaining or continuing to go forward. You have to go forward because if you get stuck in one place you’re going to stay in that same place.”
Jackson credited the Christian Student Association [CSA] on campus with helping her through the pandemic. If you are interested in more information about the CSA group, email Jackson at fiercelyartistic at gmail.com. Meeting times are from Thursday 8-9 am and Friday 12-1 pm. Please contact Jackson to find out if meetings will be held virtually or on campus.
Anya Savvy is a pen name for a Minneapolis College student who works as a reporter for City College News. To contact Anya, please email them at anya at citycollegenews.com.