Not being a part of the crowd can be challenging and uncomfortable. It is something that most people choose not to do, but sophomore Mya Walker wants to break the pattern of conforming. Walker has participated in racial equity programs and events in hopes of getting minorities to be advocates for their own equality. From participating in workshops, to learning about her family’s heritage, Walker continues to make steps toward fighting for equality every day.
“Passion for equity is what feeds my soul,” Mya said. “I love listening to oppressed people’s stories, watching documentaries and educating myself on the statistics and what is actually going on in our world that affects the oppressed.”
Gateway to Change is what motivated Walker to make a change at FHN and in our community. Gateway to Change is a four day workshop centered around race that exposes St. Louisans to issues that face our community, while also helping those in need. This opportunity has allowed her the chance to learn how to comfortably talk about race and has given her the skills and tools to speak about her own experiences with racial inequality.
“This is one thing I feel like I can’t ignore now that I’ve become enlightened,” Mya said. “I see it everyday. In our education system, in stores and on the streets. I know that people look at my family funny [due to our races]. It’s hurtful, but it is what it is.”
Walker hopes to teach others how to hold people accountable for hurt or disrespect that they may cause due to insensitive comments surrounding race. One example is a tweet from Mizzou regarding inclusion.
“The way that they chose to portray the black people is totally different than the white people,” Mya said. “They spoke of the white people highly, like they are going places. They portrayed the black people as just black. It’s as if they don’t have as bright of a future as their white peers. It’s blatantly ignorant to me. Whites may not understand this issue as clearly since they don’t experience it and they cannot truly understand what it’s like to be bipoc (black, indigenous, people of color), and they don’t have the right to tell bipoc what they do and don’t experience. [Mizzou’s] goal was to be inclusive, but their post was not effective. They were simply not inclusive because they did not portray the races as equal.”
Walker continues to be confrontational in these instances and encourages others to follow her lead. In the future, she plans to be a civil rights lawyer to fight for people’s rights.
“She doesn’t let others get by with insensitive micro aggressions,” Mya’s mom, Michelle Walker said. “Most people don’t realize they are offending, but Mya lets them know. I am proud of her courage.”