BYU advertising students Kofi Aidoo and Evelyn Harper have launched a website to help educate people about unconscious racial bias on campus.
The site is called “Check Your Blindspot” and defines unconscious biases as “social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness.”
“Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups,” the site reads, “and these biases stem from one’s tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing.”
Aidoo is the strategist and Harper is the creative director. The website has been in the works since February 2019. A third student, Harrison Brownell, also helped get the project off the ground. It started off with a lot of surveys, secondary research and interviews.
They found that the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System reported that 1% of BYU students are black or African American. The BYU Multicultural Student Services Center told them 63% of these students do not graduate from BYU; they either transfer schools or don’t graduate at all.
The site also features videos created by BYU students, including actor Joel Joseph, producer Whitney Merrill, videographers Derrick Trotman and Taylor Galbraith and editor Steele Palombo.
The project was made with BYU faculty and staff as the intended audience. “The people who work at BYU, stay at BYU and work to keep the culture the way it is,” Harper said to describe the target audience. She believes the best way to solve these issues is through a formal training for staff.
Aidoo said they choose to campaign via a website because they wanted to fit a lot of content in one place. “We wanted to do a multimedia campaign with long pieces and short pieces that are shareable,” he said.
Harper said their content is not very straightforward. “A lot of our pieces are very introspective because we wanted to give people the opportunity to really think about it instead of just being told,” Harper said. Their goal was to “(show) that it’s not hard to learn. It might be hard to change, but it’s not hard to learn.”
The site also calls for allies and defines them as “a mouth to speak out against injustice. A nose to sniff out implicit bias. Eyes to identify privilege. Ears to listen to the POC (people of color) experience. A heart to cultivate empathy for the oppressed. Hands to take action and make a change.”
Harper and Aidoo had a lot of help, and they didn’t work exclusively with black students. “It’s about 50 people who have a stake in helping us create this project,” Harper said. “About 47 of those people are white.”
“A lot of all of our content had to do with their input as well,” Harper said. “I don’t think it would have been as powerful without their ideas and their help. They relate more to the audience more than they do to us in some ways.”
Aidoo agreed. “It was nice to have a piece of the audience working on the project,” he said.
The pair doesn’t plan on adding anything to the website anytime soon, but they are considering recreating a similar website for another marginalized group on campus, like female students or students with disabilities. Harper believes a project like this aligns well with BYU’s values.
“Being allies doesn’t mean that you’re not Christian,” she said. “I believe that God is the author of diversity and Christ is the publisher of peace. If God made us all different for a reason, He would expect us to be inclusive of everyone.”