‘Walk A Mile In My Shoes’: Spreading awareness about oppression

A group of students who participated at the event, walking through and looking at the signs posted on the walls. Photo by: Maria Camila Hernandez. (April 10, 2018)

On April 10, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, together with Campus Activities and the Center for Social Justice and Human Understanding, held an all-day interactive workshop about forms of oppression and stereotypes in society.

The event, “Walk a Mile in My Shoes,”  was part of a month-long series of activities called “Equal Justice for All” held college-wide. April 10’s event was an experience-based activity, where groups of students could walk between two walls, and look at signs about different forms of discrimination and oppression that were displayed.

Subjects such as racism, immigration, anti-Semitism, sexism and ableism  — discrimination against disabled people — were explained to students in form of graphs, charts, pictures and news. Students at the event could relate to some of the terms, as was the case of Laura Garcia, a liberal arts major and president of the Student Government Association.

Perception
Signs, pictures, news and charts were among the elements displayed on the walls.

Garcia comes from a Mexican immigrant family. Even though she doesn’t have to deal with the remarks of oppression, her family does. “My parents or family members who don’t speak the language very well, do face more discrimination when going out. So the event did hit close to home in that instance,” said Garcia.

The Eaton’s Neck Room in the Babylon Student Center was packed each hour, as different groups of people went in to live the experience. Around 30 people were led to sit in a circle for the activities following the walk through the walls. They were given random labels attached to their backs, and then they had to guess the label by stereotyped expressions associated with the word.

“We want to create awareness, to enhance communication with others. It is important now, because with the Internet, people are constantly communicating with others from different cultures. The world is diverse, and we need to learn how to connect better,” said Malika Batchie Lockhart, assistant of the Multicultural Affairs office.

Malika Batchie Lockhart
Malika Batchie Lockhart, assistant of the Multicultural Affairs office, talks to the attendees about labels and what they mean for a person.

In addition, students were shown a video regarding microaggression, generally defined as indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group. In this way, students could understand such term and the effects it has in the process of communicating with others.

“People are treated differently and given privileges depending on who they are. We have to see from different perspectives to all the alternatives to look at things,” said James Banks, college coordinator of Multicultural Affairs.

All the information and the subject matters of the program were intended to leave students with a sense of respect and tolerance towards others. As Batchie Lockhart said, “People don’t walk around with labels, so you don’t know who are you hurting with the things you say.”

 

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