An East Carolina University student has created an Instagram account to address the issue of racism on campus and bring it to the attention of the ECU administration as students share stories about their experiences.
The creator, who has asked to remain anonymous, said the account titled Dear ECU serves as a safe space for the Black, indigenous and people of color (POC) community at ECU.
They said Dear ECU accepts anonymous submissions from students, faculty and alumni who said they have experienced racist micro or macro-aggressions while at ECU.
“I created this account because originally I was one of the students that had experienced something racial on campus and when I had made a report myself I felt my incident on campus was overlooked and I didn’t get the justice I wanted or deserved,” the creator said.
The creator said they wish they had made the account earlier to share stories from others who have experienced racist actions toward them. They said it is sad that schools like ECU and other institutions have had to make social media accounts just to get attention for justice that people of color on campus deserve.
“Students are spending thousands of dollars a year to attend a campus that’s supposed to be diverse and they brush off stuff like it’s nothing. It completely outrages me,” the creator said.
The Dear ECU Instagram account has gained the attention of the Dean of Students Office with a follow from its social media account, according to the creator. They said they plan to compose a series of stories from students, faculty and alumni who have experienced racism to bring to ECU administration in the future.
Senior art major TyJae Huff said he experienced racist actions toward him by a coworker at a job through ECU’s Campus Living. Huff said he works as an RA (resident advisor) and his coworker had made a comment that he only received a position due to the need to fill the quota for POC staff.
It has been two years since the comment was made but it still lingers in the back of his mind, according to Huff. He said his coworker meant no harm by the comment but it was something that didn’t need to be said.
“There are a lot of microaggressions I feel like POC’s go through, more black people than anything, and the (DearECU) page will just be able to show big and small problems that people have faced,” Huff said.
Senior professional acting major Damaris Tooley said her theater arts professor may have purposely implied a racist remark toward her at rehearsal. She said in one specific instance she was a cast member in a show about soccer and the director had told her she looked like a basketball player while she held a soccer ball.
“This last semester I was in a show about soccer and the director told me during notes ‘Damaris you look like a basketball player’. I really didn’t know what that meant and he said that was because I was holding a soccer ball earlier in the scene I looked like a basketball player,” Tooley said.
As she realized what the director had said the room fell silent, according to Tooley. She said she felt as though others had held their breath and she made a meeting with the head of the theater department a week later.
Tooley said at the meeting the person in charge assured her the director meant no harm by the comment and to take it as a compliment because she looks more athletic. She said she is tired of the way ECU is divided and knows it will only get worse.
“I wasn’t even going to call and talk to you about this because I didn’t really want to, but my other friend who’s also a person of color told me I should because this is what we’re trying to do is make people listen and I think this can make a total difference,” Tooley said.