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UNICEF fundraisers experience microaggressions in West Lake neighborhood

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It was all for a good cause; walking in the wet and windy weather to raise money for UNICEF in West Lake, one of Austin’s many wealthy suburbs located on the west side of Austin.

On Halloween night, our club Circle K, a service leadership organization at St. Edward’s, drove to the West Lake neighborhood with the motive of raising funds for the Wash program, a cause that would help provide clean water to children in Haiti.

Our party of nine decided to split into four groups, all of whom would cover different areas of the neighborhood. The demographics of our group were made up of two ethnicities: white and Latino. We split off into three groups, unaware that the division of groups we made led to one entire group of Latinas.

When we returned home to count our funds, our organization leader, Samantha Hull, noticed that when in comparison to the other two groups, the Latina group raised a relatively low amount.

At first, we joked that our lack of funds was due to our inability to promote the cause, but as we looked more into the dilemma, we wondered, “Could this have been an ethnicity issue?”

“When I would go up to the door and ask [the people] to donate they seemed happy to donate,” stated Hull. “But when Kathie, who is Latina, would go up to them, they donated, but seemed very hesitant to do so.”

Student Zachary Bryant-Amos (who identifies as African American) went fundraising for UNICEF and came across this same issue as well.

“I went with my two friends, who are white, and every time I went up to ask, they hit me with so many questions; kind of doubting the legitimacy of my club,” stated Bryant-Amos. “I had them go and they got dollars, fives and they didn’t ask them any questions. They were glad to give them money.”

This response was not particularly surprising. Although race relations have improved in the U.S., socioeconomic differences amongst races remain steadily the same. In terms of relaying the importance of a cause and seeking donations, it appeared as if the Latino students who participated in the activity were seen as dishonest swindlers.

Whether it be the stereotypes that are so commonly attached to marginalized groups as we attempt to categorize each other or the kinder belief that generalizes all young adults as deviants, there was an undeniable trend in the responses minorities received when asking for donations compared to white students.

“The groups that had two white people, or at least one, raised a significant amount more money than the groups that had none,” said Hull. “Not saying this proves anything [factual], at first I didn’t think much of it, but now looking into it, I just find it a bit odd.”

Although we are in a seemingly progressive city, we must not be naive in believing that misguided mentalities about minorities and social constraints have ceased to exist. We must not allow our minds to believe in a false life, where equality amongst all is a notion we all support.

Instead, let us continue to bring these social constraints to light, so we may be more disposed to address them in our futures.

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The Student News Site of St. Edward's University
UNICEF fundraisers experience microaggressions in West Lake neighborhood