You may recognize Kahlil Greene’s face from TikTok, or maybe you have heard him advocating for education and equity, but listening to him speak right in front of you provides a new sense of hope for marginalized communities.
This is the impact Kahlil Greene, the first Black student body president at Yale University, had on me when he joined magazine, news and digital journalism professor Melissa Chessher for a conversation on diversity, equity and inclusion.
“Public school curricula, generally speaking, throughout most of American history have been very lackluster when it comes to talking about history—Black history specifically, or history of any marginalized community,” Greene said. “For a long time, the history was just false.”
Many Black and brown students who joined the conversation can attest to the vague and inaccurate teachings of slavery, Jim Crow laws and segregation throughout their childhood.
“It was just narratives created to sponsor nationalism or appeal to a sense of expansion into the West that people felt was like a God-given right,” Greene said. “That’s what history has been used for, more indoctrination than anything else.”
When asked about what his most favorite video is on Tik Tok, Greene referred to his video, “How Everything on @TikTok Originated with Black People – Part 1.” Fearless and passionate about holding people accountable for cultural appropriation, Greene broadcasts his responses to these incidents to followers in the hundreds of thousands.
“When you talk about different TikTok trends and within each trend I talk about which Black person it comes from,” Green said. “The Ice in My Veins Pose: D’Angelo Russell made it a long time ago and it was popular with Black kids, especially within basketball culture, but then all of a sudden it just blew up on TikTok and TikTok is just a source of déjà vu if you’re a Black person. Everything that you remember as a kid just gets repeated on there,” Greene said.
Today, Greene holds a Hall of Fame designation from the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington, and has published op-eds with the LA Times and Washington Post.
However, his work for the community has just begun. He prides himself on educating others on topics pertaining to racial injustice and American history.
“What I hope to do is uncover and really do my own first-hand research, never-before-seen insights,” Greene said. “I try to do that with contemporary arguments and contemporary commentary.”
Today, Greene lives in New Haven, CT and is finishing his senior year at Yale University. He studies history with an emphasis in social change and social movements.
For bookings, inquiries or press requests, visit kahlilgreene.com.
Darcie Ortique is a graduate student in the broadcast and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.