Alumna stresses cultural consciousness

By Elana Zeltser

Shani Byard ’92, founder of Message Media Ed, urged the members of the Black Leadership and Culture Club to seek a better understanding of their African-American culture at break on Nov. 7.

“Know who you are because what you have to offer is incredibly beneficial to all,” Byard said.

Message Media Ed is a school of African-American leadership and culture for grades K-12. Byard hopes the school can compensate for a lack of education in those areas in Los Angeles schools.

Byard, who studied media literacy in college, believes the media is extremely Euro-centric, failing to cater to people of color. The program offers classes for teachers of European descent to learn to be culturally conscious with students.

At the BLACC meeting, Byard advocated the importance of discovering passions not just through academic classes, but also through electives, which she calls self-directed learning.

Byard found her passion in dance, and was especially interested in integrating African dance into her routines. She continued to be part of dance companies during her time at Spellman University before transferring to Loyola Marymount University, where she obtained a doctorate in educational leadership for social justice and a bachelors degree in television production.

Inspired by the resistance against the Aparteid in South Africa, Byard founded Message Media Ed to bring to center the African-American experience for people of all ethnicities, and hopes that the members of BLACC will help as well.

“As a person of color entering a learning environment, be prepared to teach, too,” Byard said.