Students Fight Stereotyping with Social Media

SAN DIEGO — High school students at Torrey Pines High in California are using social media to fight stereotypes.

Senior Savannah Phillips manages a Tumblr page where students are uploading pictures of themselves and their responses to the hurtful and racial slurs they’re victims of at school.

The messages include: “Just because I’m Asian doesn’t mean I have a 4.0,” “We are Mexican and we will graduate” and “We are Persian, but we don’t carry bombs in our bags.”

“You’re not alone. I think that’s what it’s saying,” Phillips said.

Anthony Nguyen wants people to know he is not Chinese, he is not going to Harvard and, by the way, he’s not that good at math.

“(People are) assuming things based on how I look,” Nguyen said, “‘You must be a human calculator,’ those types of stereotypes.”

Many students agree.

“It’s not just minorities who are affected by stereotypes,” said one student.

“Everyone here is just as guilty,” said another student.

Other messages exposed deep and very personal struggles.

Torrey Pines teacher Don Hollins came up with the idea after seeing a similar page from college students at the University of Virginia.

“I’ve been really, really proud of the courage and the openness kids have shown,” he said. “The goal is to increase the awareness and respect. That you might stop and check your own stereotyping and ask yourself, ‘Do I really know this person and am I willing to extend myself to find that out?’”

So far more than a hundred students have taken part in the project, called Voices of TP, letting their classmates and the world know the way they look doesn’t define them.

“We are getting this out there and letting people know this isn’t okay and a lot of people out there are facing this and it’s time for this to stop,” said Phillips.

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