11th annual Hate Wall addresses negative stereotypes on campus

The Hate Wall has moved locations from The Shack to the MU Student Center

As students walked through the MU Student Center last Thursday, Oct. 9, they encountered a wall defaced with phrases MU students wished to banish from their campus.

Derogatory terms such as “slut,” “terrorist,” “faggot,” and “man-hater” accompanied phrases such as “man up,” “racism isn’t real anymore,” “you don’t look gay,” and “you’re so well spoken” littered the wall as passersbys added to the wall throughout the day.

Payton Head, former Missouri Students Association Social Justice Committee chair, said the Hate Wall project began 11 years ago when the Residence Halls Association decided it was time to take a stand against hate crimes on campus.

“They put this wall in Speakers Circle, and let students walk by all day long and put different things that they didn’t want to hear on campus again,” Head said. “Later on, it passed on to the MSA Social Justice Committee and it’s been a spotlight program of this senate committee for the past ten years.”

This year’s Hate Wall event took place inside the MU Student Center for the first time. This open environment allowed the discussion to expand beyond a single room.

“I think it was a really good opportunity for people to just be more conscious and aware of language that they use or language that they haven’t thought of that could be offensive or hurtful to someone else,” Multicultural Center Coordinator Stephanie Hernandez said.

The event kicked off with the creation of a safe space where judgment would not be passed and anyone could speak what he or she may have hidden.

Indie Poets came to the stage and spoke abouttheir personal experiences with hate and stereotyping. One spoke of the weight of his history and another one spoke of watching her younger sister grow up battling racism from both ends.

Next, the Diversity Peer Educators took to the stage and transported the crowd to an alternate universe. In this universe, homosexuality was the norm. The heterosexuals or “breeders” were shunned and ostracized.

Afterwards, salmon-colored slips of paper were handed to the spectators. They were given the prompt of “If you walked a mile in my shoes, you would know…”

The mic was open for anyone to step on stage and read from their slip of paper. Freshmen Yasmin Younis was one of them. She spoke of the hate she faced as an Arab American.

“I’ve seen so much that I really want people to understand that there’s so many of us out there, 1.6 billion of us, that you can’t label 1.6 billion people as terrorists when (sic) only .01% of them that are,” Younis said. “I thought this would be a very safe and great opportunity for people to see me as a person rather than see me as what a few people have unfortunately labeled me as.”

More attendees shared their stories of a past of abuse, coming to terms with their queer identity, overcoming self-harm and battling their racial identity.

The evening’s activities concluded with everyone gathering together and, as one community, both literally and figuratively, tearing down the wall of hate.

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