For many Black Americans, it can be easy to get lost in our daily struggles. Even though progress has been made, the fight for equality in this nation is far from over.
However, what many Black Americans aren’t privy to is the trials and tribulations faced by fellow Black people overseas. The numerous social media videos of Black people in Ukraine being mistreated as the European country entered one of the most pivotal standoffs in its history brought the struggle of Black people across the world to the forefront.
After seeing the discrimination and mistreatment, Macire Aribot and Nassim Ashford, the co-founders of Noir United, took action.
The two Black Ivy League Masters students from Atlanta, Georgia with international roots have raised approximately $100,000 in collaboration with other organizations to help Black students stranded in Ukraine who are looking to escape the conflict with Russia.
The funds have gone toward paying for students’ transportation to the border, students’ flights back to their home countries, necessities such as food and water and also providing direct allotments of cash for students in need.
The duo started the organization in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd and believes that they can make a difference by bridging the gap between communities in the diaspora. Aribot and Ashford grew up in majority Black schools in Atlanta and have been exposed to racial challenges at their Ivy League institutions, Columbia and Yale respectively.
So, when they saw the videos of the mistreatment to people who look like them, they reached out to Black students to see what their needs were. Now, the organization has a database of about 600 students and the two have helped many more during their recent travels overseas in Europe.
“If one of us are not free then all of us are not free. The experience of racial discrimination that is faced here in America is not confined to the borders of American society and the moment that you leave, you experience the compound pressures of racism historically not only from the European structure but from White Supremacy overall,” said Ashford. “We feel that as an organization if we are going to speak on racism then it’s important that we highlight the racism that is all around us because it is all connected.”
The organization has now safely evacuated many students and have even provided temporary housing. Now they are helping these students apply to other schools around the globe to help them finish their education and obtain their degrees.
The impact that these two have made is substantial and it has changed the lives of so many people, including themselves.
“It’s definitely allowed me to understand what kind of impact I want to have on the world,” said Aribot. “ A lot of times we have all of these issues that we think are so big and so grand that we don’t even know where to begin or how to address it. Because of that mindset a lot of times the people that I know can feel defeated and say ‘well that’s just the way that things are’ and being able to do something substantial and actually be able to help people shows that nothing is impossible.”
While the feat that these two have accomplished is noteworthy, they made it very clear that they are not the heroes of this story and that the work is far from being done.
“It’s not like we are trying to come in and say that Black people in the United States need to be saviors. We don’t want to continue the savior complex,” said Aribot. “The progress being made in the United States is not even comparable to the situations Black people are facing in Europe, situations Black people are facing in Latin America and South America, and things like that. There’s still so much work that needs to be done.”
The focus of Noir United is to empower members of the global Black Community to push for the same rights as we are fighting for in the United States. They are looking to expand its reach both domestically and internationally to be able to achieve its goals of being a major international humanitarian organization.
“We want to bridge the gap between diasporic communities so we can be able to share information, share knowledge, and share tactics so that we can uplift ourselves,” said Aribot. “That’s the number one goal. We essentially want to become one of the largest Black-led international development and humanitarian aid organizations because we think that there is a need for that.”