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Black Menaces announce expansion to other college campuses

The group of Brigham Young University students are known for posting videos asking their white classmates questions about race, identity and politics.

The Black Menaces, a group of students known for posting videos asking their white classmates questions about race, identity and politics, are expanding their organization to campuses across the United States.

The students, who attend Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, have amassed 725,000 followers on TikTok since launching their account in February. Their videos show them asking their white classmates questions like, “Would you date someone who is bisexual” and “What do you do to combat racism?”

The group — made up of Sebastian Stewart-Johnson, Nate Byrd, Kylee Shepherd, Kennethia Dorsey and Rachel Weaver — announced the news in a video on Wednesday.

"We want a Menace chapter at every predominantly white institution and university in the country," Shepherd says in the video, which is captioned "EMAIL US TO START ONE WHEREVER YOU ARE."

In a recent interview with NBC News, Stewart-Johnson elaborated on the plans, noting that the group is officially creating chapters at the University of North Carolina, Duke University, Tulane University and San Francisco State University.

Already, Stewart-Johnson said students at more than two dozen schools across the country have expressed interest.

He said the goal of the expansion is to help the Black Menaces organize large protests and push initiatives nationwide, like getting schools to mandate classes on race.

Eventually, he said he hopes the Black Menaces will group the new chapters into four regions based on location and create new TikTok accounts for each region.

"As Black students, we've felt the isolation and 'ostracization' so we wanted to highlight everything that we go through in a way that millions could see it," Stewart-Johnson said in an April interview.

Those in the Black Menaces TikTok videos who are being questioned often appear uncomfortable. But the Menaces said making their classmates think critically about subjects like race, gender identity and expression, and other issues facing marginalized groups, is important.

"We enjoy making people uncomfortable and giving them things to thing about that they probably never thought about before," said Byrd.

Stewart-Johnson said the idea for the Black Menaces came from feeling he and other Black students often felt the burden of educating their peers. As members of the Black Student Union, the group felt that their pushes to make the school more inclusive went unfulfilled.

BYU is also affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — also known as Mormons — and the school's white population reflects the church's composition. As of 2018, 6% of the world’s 16 million Latter-day Saints were Black. 

Already, many of the group's followers on TikTok appear excited about the expansion. In the comment section of the Wednesday announcement, many posted schools they want the Menaces to bring chapters to.