Last week, students had a chance to walk in someone else’s shoes at an exhibit in the Emerson Hall lobby.
“Our intent was not to make you feel guilty,” said freshman Zoe Wolf, with the group Bridges, which hosted The Born Identity.
The interactive exhibit focuses on white privilege and showed students how racial inequality can show up in daily life.
“We just wanted to show what it’s like to walk in somebody else’s shoes for a little bit,” Wolf said. “It’s important to know what other people are going through.”
When students entered the exhibit, they were asked to fill out a survey and continue to answer questions as they went through the exhibit.
“While privilege is the rights, advantages, immunities or exemptions granted to or enjoyed by white people beyond the common advantage of all others,” the exhibit said. “These advantages are often subtle, but pervasive.”
The exhibit asked students to respond to statements such as, “I can choose a bandage in ‘flesh color’ ” or “The most familiar image of Jesus I have seen in local churches or in the media is a man of my same race.”
The exhibit also highlighted race issues in advertising and the case of a white teen who wasn’t punished for an alleged crime because of “affluenza” — the idea that a young person lacks a sense of responsibility or guilt because of his or her wealth.
Students were also shown how racism happens in social media. Some fans were angered when Amandla Stenberg, a multiracial actress, was cast as Rue in The Hunger Games, even though in the book, the character is described as having “dark brown skin and eyes.”
Students were also shown laws that formerly restricted minorities from owning property in Queen Anne.
“No person or persons of Asiatic, African or Negro blood, lineage or extraction shall be permitted to occupy a portion of said property,” according to one such law.
A study first done in 1947 and then repeated in 2010 by CNN was also featured in the exhibit. In both studies, children of different ethnicities were asked questions about dolls.
Both studies found similar results.
When shown dolls of different skin tones, 15 out of 21 children said they preferred the doll with white skin.
Wolf said, after going through the exhibit, many asked, “What am I supposed to do now?”