Chyna Brodie becomes first Black woman to serve a full term as SG president
A reflection on Brodie’s term and its legacy at AU
From the Newsstands: This story appeared in The Eagle's April 2022 print edition. You can find the digital version here.
When Chyna Brodie finishes her term as American University Student Government President, she will be the first Black woman to serve a full term in the role, and the second to be elected.
Brodie, a junior in the School of Public Affairs, ran on addressing concerns students had been expressing for years.
“I hate things that are performative, and I wanted to make sure I followed along with my promises,” Brodie said.
With greater advocacy for international students, bringing back the yearbook, granting students free access to all events and raising $2,000 for AU’s dining staff, Brodie said she feels successful with her presidency overall.
“Chyna is the most ambitious person I’ve ever met,” said Jadyn Newman, Brodie’s chief of staff and a junior in the School of Communication and SPA. “My job is mostly to assist Chyna, and it’s nice to make sure that she is not overworked.”
Although the pandemic brought about challenges, it also brought about opportunities for Brodie to think outside of the box. For example, when the spring 2022 semester began online, it gave Brodie and her staff a month to figure out what students were demanding and how to meet those needs until the month was over.
“It was a unique opportunity to build a group of students online but also support each other online,” Brodie said. “It also gave time to figure out what students needed.”
Completing this term means she will be the first Black female SG president to do so. Taylor Dumpson, the first female Black president of SG, resigned from her position after hate crimes that occurred on her first day in office.
“The AU Dumpson was a part of is very different from the AU now,” Brodie said. She referenced that when Dumpson won her presidency, it was also when the country itself was in an unstable position with the recent election of Donald Trump in 2016. “Looking at Dumpson, you recognize that as a Black woman, you’re always being watched. There is always someone looking for something [to criticize].”
Identity was a huge concern for Brodie and her staff, Newman said.
“I’m also a Black woman, so I know the complex identity at AU,” Newman said. “Will we be taken seriously, will there be the same level of respect? How do we make sure she is taken seriously and treated fairly?”
During the course of Brodie’s presidential reelection campaign she faced two SG Judicial Board inquiries for alleged campaign violations, one of which resulted in her suspension from her role as SG president for one week. Brodie won the recent presidential election and will serve a second term during her senior year. Amid the ongoing judicial board investigation, the election was first decertified by the Undergraduate Senate and then certified after the Center for Student Involvement overturned the move. Brodie referenced this in a statement following the recent decertification of the SG presidential elections on March 30.
“Existing as a Black woman means I’m not granted the same grace my white peers may receive,” she wrote in a statement to The Eagle. “It means being scrutinized, investigated, and ridiculed.”
Still, Brodie said her identity has been far from a setback. Brodie worked to fulfill her promise of uplifting the voices of students of color. For example, Brodie increased advocacy and funding towards BIPOC affinity groups and events, and reframed Founders Week to spotlight multicultural organizations on campus.
With the sense of empowerment, however, also comes the sense of liability.
Brodie said she hopes that people also learn that you “can still be ‘you’ in any role you’re elected to.”
“It’s so powerful,” Brodie said, in describing her experience as a Black woman at a predominantly white institution. “I love being a Black woman, I wouldn’t change it for the world. They don’t say Black girl magic for nothing.”