Experiences with underrepresentation: “I, Too, Am Berkeley”

I, too, am Berkeley/Courtesy

Launched earlier in March on both Facebook and Tumblr “I, Too, Am Berkeley” features the stories of underrepresented students at Berkeley. While the pictures of students in “I, Too, Am, Berkeley” are posed, their stories are not. Each post features a photo of a student holding a white board that they’ve written a short message on. These messages are often stereotypical or prejudiced questions they’ve been asked, like “You’re Mexican — why aren’t you a Chicano Studies major?” and “Where are you really from?” Other times, these messages come in the form of prejudiced comments they’ve been on the receiving end of, like “You didn’t have to try hard to get in.”

1743750_264404747067543_1772029702_nBased on the “I, Too, Am Harvard” photo campaign project that features African American students at Harvard, “I, Too, Am Berkeley” seeks to “educate others of daily instances of racial micro aggressions students face so that we as a community can create a more inclusive environment regardless of race and ethnicity,” says Joanna García, founder of “I, Too, Am Berkeley.” Other universities, like Oxford, have started similar photo campaigns and the Facebook page is becoming increasingly popular, accumulating over 1,000 likes in less than one week.

Joanna García, a sophomore and intended history and Spanish double major, founded this project in an effort to send her own message. “UC Berkeley is a unique campus in the sense that it is an esteemed public university, and it attracts students of all kinds of different backgrounds. Although it is diverse in that sense, it lacks inclusivity. Many students feel like they don’t belong or aren’t welcomed especially when they are confronted with instances of racial micro-aggressions or even flat out racism. We the underrepresented students of color shouldn’t have to feel like we don’t belong because this is our campus and our home. We are also Berkeley,” she says. Tiffany O’Dwyer, Executive Coordinator for the Mixed Student Union, hopes the project will, “make Berkeley a more peaceful and informed campus for all. She also thinks the project “will bring insight to the rest of campus about our presence and make our fellow students aware of the way they talk to people and they questions they ask.”

The “I, too, am Berkeley”  posts that pop up in our Facebook news feeds achieve the campaign’s goal of educating. These eyeopening  posts are powerful, just like the students featured in them. “I too, am, Berkeley” reminds us that each Berkeley student, regardless of race or ethnicity, is unique and has overcome unique sets of challenges to legitimately earn his or her place on campus. An environment free from stereotypes is necessary for campus to feel like a home for all students.

Interviews for features in, “I, Too, Am, Berkeley” occur Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Joanna can be reached at [email protected]

Contact Martha Morrissey at [email protected].