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Students from Harvard University are shedding light on how most people of color feel on predominately white campuses in a new photo campaign, tiled “I, Too, Am Harvard.”
According to the website, “Our voices often go unheard on this campus, our experiences are devalued, our presence is questioned — this project is our way of speaking back, of claiming this campus, of standing up to say: We are here. This place is ours. We, TOO, are Harvard.”
The #itooamharvard campaign was inspired by a school play of the same name, written by sophomore Kimiko Matsuda-Lawrence. She told BuzzFeed that the idea started after an independent study last semester where she interviewed 40 members of the Black community about their diverse experiences in college.
“We want to build a larger movement for students of color in general, but this play is for Harvard’s Black Arts Festival,” she said. “We’re part of a nationwide movement of black student activism…We haven’t started this, but we’re hoping we can add to the movement and speak up against racism on college campuses.”
The initial conversation started after the Harvard Crimson printed a controversial article called “Affirmative Dissatisfaction” in November 2012. The piece questioned Harvard’s affirmative action policy, and according Matsuda-Lawrence, “it created a lot of racial tension.”
“I felt, and other students felt, that our presence and identity as black students was being de-valued. At the time I was a freshman. We’d just shown up on campus, and we felt like people were saying I wasn’t smart enough to be here,” she explained. “Everybody was talking about it on campus and it created a lot of racial tension.”
“This is our way of speaking back and saying we belong here. We’re claiming this campus as our own,” she stated.
Their Tumblr page, which launched Saturday night, has received over 19,000 page views. Check out the video below and pictures from the tolerance-teaching project here. Be sure to share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below.