Students gathered at the center of the Horseshoe and marched to Greene Street on Friday in protest of racist culture and what they see as inaction from USC administration.
Courtney McClain, a fourth-year broadcast journalism student and activist, organized the event after a TikTok video of an individual repeatedly saying an anti-Black racial slur went viral last week. In the video, the person claims they go to USC, though the university has confirmed that they do not.
“It's not really in response to her specifically. It's more so just in response to the culture that has been accepted here, especially since she felt comfortable enough to pose as a USC student," McClain said. "I think that speaks enough to the culture that she would feel comfortable being here and not having any type of consequences for what she says.”
After marching from the Horseshoe, protesters rallied in front of the Russell House to share their experiences with racism on campus.
“Zora Neale Hurston, a very well-known African American anthropologist, has done so much, she says 'if you are silent about your pain, they'll kill you and say you enjoyed it' … We will take Zora’s advice. We’re not silent anymore,” Shalaia Myers, a third-year African American studies student, said.
Several speakers shared their experiences with racial slurs and derogatory language, including the repeated use of racial slurs and microaggressive or inflammatory behaviors from classmates and roommates.
Some protesters also talked about what it's like being the only student of color in a classroom.
“I’m tired of being the only Black person in the room. I already went through that in undergrad. I went through a whole four years of being the only Black person,” Ph.D. student Laurent Duverglas said.
McClain has started a survey for students to document their experiences with racism on campus. So far, she has 23 responses. She plans to release the results of the survey on social media and send it to university administration in a formal report.
Multiple speakers also expressed frustration with the university administration, saying they want "more than a statement." If the university does not take direct action to improve campus culture for its students of color, the protesters say they plan to take more action. McClain wants the university to send a request to the state legislature to remove the names of historically racist figures from campus buildings and add language to the code of conduct implementing a zero tolerance policy for hate crimes and racist acts.
“This is not the last that you will hear from us, and if we have to come out again, we'll get bigger and bigger and bigger," McClain said. "We will start to collaborate with our Latino brothers and sisters. We will start collaborating with our Asian American brothers and sisters, our queer brothers and sisters, and we’ll eventually just become so large that the university can no longer ignore us.”