Ana Maria Sanchez-Castillo: Why I Joined MiC
There were a lot of things I didn't understand about what it meant to be Latina, especially growing up in a community that was less than one percent non-white. I was socialized to not register that my identity was something to be proud of rather than something to try to compensate for. I spent many high school class periods debating my peers on issues such as police brutality, the Black Lives Matter movement and the infamous border wall to name a few. In reflection something always left me unsettled upon leaving the conversation –– the realization that I had not actually been heard.
Getting accepted to a college that plastered diverse faces on pamphlets and brochures seemed to be a breath of fresh air. As I began in the Summer Bridge program, I truly felt that way. However, our cohort was constantly reminded and prepared for the fact that come fall, classrooms and campus as a whole would feel a lot different, a lot less comfortable.
No preparation could have prepared me for what I experienced fall of my freshman year. After incidents of explicit racism and degradation I joined arms in countless protest, spending my days and nights with my peers begging to be heard. At the “Why I Kneel Protest” I remember talking to an older woman who had told me that these were the same types of issues she was protesting when she came to school at UMich 40 years ago. This was affirmed when there was not a solid acknowledgement of the movements on campus.
I realized the lack of representation and validation meant places created as a means of survival for people of color were crucial. Places to culminate our powerful voices and mold ourselves a position where our words were met with respect. This is why I came to MiC. I want to contribute to this movement of relentless activism that manifests into a space I, and many POC, crave. One where the spectrum of diverse experiences not only provides sanctum, but fights for exponential change.