As November is widely regarded as a signifier of the end of the semester and the eagerly awaited Thanksgiving holiday, it is also another important time for many: Native American Heritage month.
To celebrate, the Women’s Center, located next to the Yum Shoppe in the Commons, put together a poster campaign called, “Telling Our Stories.” The campaign featured Native and Indigenous women telling their stories, after responding to an open call on social media.
“Telling Our Stories: I’m Not/I Am” originally started in the spring of this year as a project that was geared towards eliminating stereotypes against women, specifically women of color, with about 70 participants.
“The [American Association of University Women] was kind enough to give us a grant of $5000, and we also received $1000 from BreakingGround so we went ahead and started the campaign,” said assistant director of the Women’s Center Megan Tagle-Adams.
The posters were a huge hit, being posted all around campus and even going viral on social media. To go along with the campaign was a showcase where many students, women of color included, shared their stories through various media of self-expression.
“As the semester drew to a close and we did not have any more money from the grant, we were left to work with our budget and decided to do the campaign but break it up by months like Native American Heritage Month this month,” said Tagle-Adams.
The process of becoming a campus-wide celebrity was quite simple. Self-identifying Native and Indigenous women contacted Tagle-Adams and made their statement to go on their poster. Some previous posters read, “I’m not ratchet” or “I’m not your token.” Then, a quick photo was taken and the poster was created in Photoshop before being released to the UMBC community via the Women’s Center.
Tagle-Adams mentioned how the Women’s Center was really trying to dig deeper and make UMBC an even more accepting place.
“So many people think that because UMBC is so diverse, that there is nothing to fix, but the reality is that students still face micro aggressions… I have heard cases of slurs being shouted at students, women feeling like they were fetishized, which are all issues,” said Tagle-Adams.
The overall goal with the “Telling Our Stories” project and of the Women’s Center as a whole, is to show awareness for and to face these issues.