#ITooAmUGA

A social movement aimed at expressing the frustrations of students of different racial backgrounds is coming to the University of Georgia. 

The campaign originated at Harvard College when sophomore Kimiko Matsuda-Lawrence conducted 40 interviews with black students on campus to form the basis of the play I, Too, Am Harvard.

The movement transitioned to a photo campaign highlighting the faces and voices of black students at Harvard by using the hashtag #ITooAmHarvard.

After seeing the success of the movement at Yale University, Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, Vernessa Clemons is bringing the effort to Tate Student Center Plaza from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Wednesday and 12:20 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday.

“My mission is to give those who have dealt with racism and racial microaggressions a platform to express themselves publicly," said Clemons, a junior majoring in English from Columbus.

Students who have felt discriminated against while being at a predominantly white institution are encouraged to write down their sentiments on white boards and take pictures with them using the hashtag #ITooAmUGA. 

A Harvard Crimson article written by a white student in November 2012 titled “Affirmative Dissatisfaction” prompted the creation of the campaign.

But Clemons said the campaign is for anyone who has experienced misjudgment or been stereotyped.

“This is to let black, but also people of color, to let out any racial microaggressions they have dealt with while at the University of Georgia,” Clemons said. “But if a white person approaches me about racial discrimination they have felt, I will take their picture.”

Clemons said she has experienced racist actions toward her on campus.

“My roommate freshman year moved out with in a month of us living together,” she said. “I asked her ‘When did you know we wouldn’t work as roommates?’ and she said ‘When UGA assigned me to you and I went on Facebook and found out you were black.’”

Britney Hardweare said she became involved in the movement because she has also experienced “racial microaggressions” on campus. 

“I hate using that [phrase] more because it diminishes the experience and discrimination that I face,” said Hardweare, said the junior international affairs and journalism major from Snellville. “Microaggressions mean there are things that are said and done to you that feel wrong, but they’re so subtle that if you call it out, then you’re considered overreacting,” she said.  

Abiel Habte said quasi-racism still exists in some people on UGA’s campus to this day.

Habte said the campaign raises awareness about the issues black students on campus continue to face.

“To me, being black means waking up, taking off our tattered, handed down pajamas, putting on our rightful robes and going into the world with no more or no less pride, wisdom and reverence of our rich culture,” said Habte, a junior majoring in international affairs from Stone Mountain.

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