“It’s unity, not uniformity.” 

When it comes to organizing, Tamika D. Mallory holds this advice close  to her heart. 

Mallory was invited by student-led organization, engaging education (e2), to speak with UC Santa Cruz alumna and fellow organizer Tiffany Dena Loftin for this year’s Speaker Blowout.

The annual event was hosted on May 11, 2022 and strives to bring BIPOC social justice organizers to the UCSC community. e2 aims to increase retention and outreach for underrepresented students on campus, and ultimately unite student communities to create a more diverse and equitable campus. 

Social justice movements and protests are not unfamiliar to the UCSC campus. Ysa Habon, the fourth year co-chair of e2, found connections between Mallory’s work and the goals of student organizations on campus. 

Mallory is a renowned social justice and movement strategist, known for her organization of the 2017 and 2019 Women’s March and activism throughout the 2020 George Floyd protests. 

“I think that the work that [Mallory] does, although it’s not specific to educational justice, it relates to e2’s mission and values. It shows our activism, and us being involved in that doesn’t end when we leave college,” Habon said. “Mallory continues to be an inspiration for young organizers, despite the tiring nature of activism.”

e2 co-chairs Ysa Habon and Ka’Reil Marshall addressed the audience at the close of the event after thanking the two speakers. Habon and Marshall presented Dena Loftin and Mallory with gifts shorty after, then exited the stage area so audience members could meet the speakers.

But, for Habon, we must be willing to continue the journey for more equitable societies and keep up the fight.

The event was open to all students, bringing in many attendees from various student-run organizations such as the Black Student Union, the Asian Pacific Islander Student Alliance, and the Cultural Arts and Diversity Resource Center. 

“While I didn’t know everyone who was there personally, there was so much warmth and solidarity. I felt really connected,” said fourth-year attendee, Melissa Gee. “The dynamic between Tamika and Tiffany was equal parts powerful and playful. The entire time, my attention was on them.”

During the event, Mallory touched on issues including civil rights and abortion rights, but centered the conversation around education, activism, and shifting attention to those who’s narratives are historically neglected. 

 “What they mean when they say, ‘Don’t teach history at all,’ that is, not the true history,” Mallory said.

Whether it’s the access a student has to essential resources or how history is taught, the inequities within education remain present at UCSC. 

The event was an ode to all the student activists working for these common values. As student-led organizations work together towards common values, engagement from the study body is essential for change.

“We have so much power as community members, to use our experiences to fight with the people we care about,” Gee said. “Being an activist is not easy and can require a lot of personal sacrifice, but when you’re passionate about what you’re working towards, it’s all worth it.” 

As Tamika D. Mallory put it, “It’s hunker down time.”