by CARMEN SIERING
Although she is only 20 years old, Tamara Brown has been an activist for years. The 2018 Bloomington High School North graduate was instrumental in the formation of Bloomington Students Against Assault Weapons (BSAAW) in the aftermath of the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. BSAAW helped organize Bloomington student participation in the April 20, 2018, National Student Walkout on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine (Colorado) High School massacre, an event where Brown was a noted speaker.
Now a junior at Indiana University, Brown says the summer of 2020 was long and difficult for people of color.
“While we were in the middle of a pandemic, struggling to make sure we didn’t get sick and struggling to pay our rent, we also had to protect ourselves from the police and the Proud Boys and the president of the United States,” Brown says. “There wasn’t a day this summer when I wasn’t exhausted.”
No matter how tired she is, Brown doesn’t feel she has the option to stop. Not only does she hostess at The Uptown Cafe, but on campus she also participates in the IU National Pan-Hellenic Council, the governing and coordinating council for the nine historically African American fraternities and sororities; Women in Government, a nonpartisan campus organization; and the Rainbow Coalition, which advocates for campus multicultural organizations.
Over the summer, Brown participated in protests calling for better policy to combat police brutality, police abolition and budget reallocation, and justice for Black lives lost.
She says she chose not to watch the video of George Floyd’s murder: “No one should need to watch a video of a Black man being unjustly murdered to be outraged.”
When asked if she is angry, Brown says, “Of course I am, but I am dedicated to making sure that anger doesn’t just sit within me, that it is directed to moving my community and my country forward.”
For Brown, who is majoring in policy analysis at the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, that means working to create systemic change. “I want to collaborate with programs that promote the culture of Black people,” she says. “Specifically, I want to create content that helps educate and build grassroots social justice movements in collaboration with programs that work to protect Black and brown communities.”