Y.O.U. students compile stories about microaggression

By: Emma Dzwierzynski, Evanstonian
Published: November 25, 2014

Many people aren't aware of the racist, sexist or otherwise discriminatory comments they make on a daily basis, but a group of Y.O.U. students are trying to change this by exposing all types of microaggression that Evanston students have experienced and how it makes them feel.

“A microaggression is any kind of verbal or structural slight or insult to a particular group of people. It can be intentional or unintentional,” states Y.O.U. Program Director Ebele Onyema, who is also in charge of the microaggression awareness project. She adds, “We want to fix these little slights where people think ‘Oh wait, you don’t fit in my box’, or ‘I don’t know which box to put you in.’”

To be a part of the campaign, all anyone has to do is take a picture of themselves holding a sign explaining either a microaggression they’ve experienced or their thoughts on microaggression and post it on social media with the hashtag #itooamawildkit.

“I’ve had people say things like ‘you dress nice for a black girl’, or ‘you talk white’,” says sophomore Gariecia Rose. “This microaggression campaign is meant to change that.”

The Leadership Project has a designated board in the first floor H Hall for the portraits. So far they have created about 13, but this is just the start. “The whole purpose of the campaign is to go viral like the Ice Bucket Challenge. We want the whole ETHS community to participate in this and upload their own pictures,” states Onyema.

“The long term goals are to have everyone at ETHS talking openly about the issue, and expressing their feelings without harsh criticism,” says sophomore Sam Blustein. He adds, “People get upset because microaggressions tend to stereotype a certain group of people, often for something they have no control over.”

The idea for this movement at ETHS came from a group of Y.O.U. students who are part of the Leadership Project, which is a program that met over the summer and talked about race-related topics. “Microaggression was just one of the many topics we talked about and it was one that resonated with everyone in the room, and they never heard the term before,” says Onyema.

Many perpetrators of microaggression do not know that what they are saying offends people, and that is part of the reason that the topic of microaggression has been brought to attention around the world. The purpose of the “I, Too, Am a Wildkit” campaign is to educate the community about the statements or questions they ask that may be offensive. This campaign has just started in Evanston, but the creators hope to involve everyone and introduce the word microaggression to all students.

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