As a way to connect with his black identity after growing up in a predominately white space, Justin Norris decided to compete in the Mr. and Miss Black OU pageant.
“I thought, ‘What better way to really push myself out of my own comfort zone and immerse myself in this part of my identity and part of my culture?’” explained Norris, who is from Arlington, Texas. “Then I also got to know so many people who I can now say are some of my closest friends, so I did it to really challenge myself but also to reconnect with my cultural identity.”
Norris’ platform, “Success Mindset,” is all about empowering young black people to be more confident in their pursuit of leadership opportunities, whether that be on campus, off campus, or in a future career. The junior has focused a lot on partnering with other student organizations, including the Black Student Association and Student Government Association (SGA), to be present at events and build relationships with other students through intentional conversations.
While fulfilling his duties as Mr. Black OU, Norris also began campaigning for the role of SGA President. He was elected to the position and began his year-long term at the beginning of this semester. Norris’ platform during the election was “Tomorrow Together,” which he said is meant to help people recognize the intersectionality between their OU stories. In addition to continuing to focus on logistical improvement and academic excellence, Norris said he wanted to make the understanding of others on campus a priority.
“We wanted to look at how we can improve the OU experience for students, staff, and faculty by allowing us to have a better understanding of how we perceive OU through different eyes,” Norris explained. “Everyone experiences the University of Oklahoma differently, but that doesn’t mean that one experience is inherently better than the other, and if you understand someone else’s experience, then you improve both of your experiences.”
In addition to serving as Mr. Black OU and beginning his term as SGA President, Norris works as a tour guide for prospective students and a peer educator in the Gender + Equality Center. Prior to taking on the SGA President role, he worked with Campus Activities Council.
A vocal performance and business marketing double major, Norris wants to eventually combine art with some of his other passions, with the ultimate goal of working for an entertainment company. He’s considering attending law school so he can practice entertainment law and represent historically underrepresented artists in court like minority and gender nonconforming artists.