RHA starts Social Justice and Diversity Week

Morgan+Blackmore%2C+a+sophomore+communication+studies+major+and+a+member+of+RHA+in+Andrews+Hall%2C+paints+a+brick+for+the+RHA+Wall+of+Hate+event+in+the+Library+Quad.+

Chynna Miller

Morgan Blackmore, a sophomore communication studies major and a member of RHA in Andrews Hall, paints a brick for the RHA Wall of Hate event in the Library Quad.

Cassie Buchman, City Editor

Resident Hall Association started its Social Justice and Diversity week by building a  “Wall of Hate” Monday in the Library Quad.

The “Wall of Hate” is built with cinder blocks students painted with various slurs and sayings that have once been said to them or they found offensive.

Morgan Blackmore, a sophomore communications studies major, said she painted a cinder block to support the cause.

“So far, people have written slut, b****, c***, retard, queer,” she said. “There’s a bunch of them.”

Blackmore said some people seemed confused and scared about the wall.

“They’ll be like, ‘Are we allowed to do this?’” Blackmore said. “They’re wondering if it’s ethical, I guess.”

Blackmore said some students, though they participated, thought it was odd.

“Some students would paint a cinder block, say ‘That was weird,’ and walk away,” she said.

RHA President Christina Lauff was writing the phrase “basic b****” on a cinder block, a word she said she heard a lot as a member of a sorority.

“Who would go out of their way to hurt someone’s feelings?” she said. “That’s dumb.”

Andrea Jenkins, a senior communication studies major, had a personal story attached to the word she wrote.

“I chose the n-word, because I’ve been called that before, been called black b****,” Jenkins said.

As a freshman, Jenkins was walking to Stevenson Hall, when a group of Caucasian men started yelling slurs at her.

“It was in broad daylight,” Jenkins said. “It almost made me want to leave Eastern.”

Ultimately, she said, she decided not to let a group of “boneheads” make her leave.

Caitlyn Buchanan, the associate resident director of Andrews Hall, wrote “P.O.A.,” or “piece of ass” on her cinder block.

“I’ve heard people being called that before, and I really struggle with the idea of people treating other people as if they’re not human beings, but sex objects,” Buchanan said.

She said people think if they write “P.O.A” instead of spelling it out, it was not as bad.

“It’s just as bad,” Buchanan said.

Isaac Howard, a freshman theatre arts major, painted a cinder block with the word “light-skinned.”

“Calling someone light, dark, brown, any type of skin is labeling,” he said. “It’s judging them before you know them.”

Howard said most people he has encountered consider those with light skin to be “stuck-up pretty boys.”

“People will say to me, you’re cool for a light skin,” he said.

Howard has had people say things to him about his light skin to his face.

“I’m aware. I know people stay stuff behind people’s backs all the time too,” he said.

The term “light skin” especially bothered him because of something he read from the 1800s.

“I read, if you separate black people by color, you can control them for 300 years,” he said.

Nneka Evans, a freshman business management major, also chose a word that had been used against her due to her skin color.

She painted the word “dark skinned.”

“I’ve gotten people saying, ‘you’re pretty for a dark skinned girl,’” Evans said. “It puts down darker skinned girls. I’ll say thank you, then be like wait, what?”

Not all blocks painted had to do with race or gender. Kimberly Vincent, a senior family and consumer sciences major, wrote the word “odd.”

“Being called odd used to kind of hurt me,” she said. “Now I take it as a little bit of an endearment.”

She said she liked the fact she is a little weird.

“Normal is overrated,” she said. “Boring.”

Students and faculty can paint the cinder blocks on Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the same location, and the wall will be torn down on Friday at noon.

On Tuesday, the activity “Diversity Books” will be hosted at 6 p.m. in the basement Andrews Hall.

“Diversity Books” will consist of three parts, and include discussions and activities about body image, race and ethnicity, and gender and sexuality.

“The True Face of Hunger/Poverty,” a discussion that will focus on different lifestyles in the Charleston Community sponsored by EIU Student Community Service in the library quad, will follow on 11 a.m. through 2 p.m. Wednesday in the Library Quad.

Thursday will be the “Big Gay Panel,” an event sponsored by EIU Pride. The panel will discuss diversity and the work Pride does on Eastern’s campus.

The week will end with the “Wall of Hate” at noon in the Library Quad, where the cinder blocks painted by students throughout the week will be torn down.

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]