BYU advertising student promotes racial equality in Utah

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Read in Spanish: Estudiante de publicidad en BYU promueve igualdad racial en Utah

BYU advertising student Kofi Aidoo has used his skills to advocate for students of color both on campus and in the the Provo community. (Kofi Aidoo)

Kofi Aidoo started college as a food science major with big plans of becoming a dentist and high expectations about BYU.

Now he’s a senior and an advertising major — and his plans and expectations have changed.

Aidoo was born in Modesto, California, where his parents, who were originally from Ghana, converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when Aidoo was 2 years old.

Aidoo said the Latter-day Saint community where he lived had him convinced that BYU was the perfect school.

“It’s what we all aspire to. You’re bound to be successful if you go to BYU, you know?” Aidoo said.

He said his time at school has actually been very different than what he originally imagined. He said he appreciates BYU and loves his program but has noticed a huge difference between his experience as a student of color and the experiences of many of his peers.

This difference has led Aidoo to become an active advocate for anti-racism in Provo. Though he isn’t associated with the official Black Lives Matter organization, he said that he tries to be a part of the movement.

Aidoo helped organize a march against racism that took place on June 13 in Provo, and he’s been vocal on social media about recent events and protests related to racial injustice.

Advertising student Kofi Aidoo leads a chant at a march against racism on June 13 outside the Historic Utah County Courthouse. (Addie Blacker)

Aidoo has been trying to promote change for people of color since before protesting broke out over George Floyd’s and others’ deaths. Earlier this year he worked on a project called Project Blindspot with some of his friends in the advertising program. The friends created a website showing the main issues that Black students face on campus and encouraging everyone to be more aware of their biases.

Aidoo said he sees Project Blindspot as his passion project, and he’s grateful the advertising program provided him with the skills and resources necessary to work on it.

“My goal is to make everywhere I go better than I found it in every way I can. So, if I could help the next Kofi that comes along be a little bit more comfortable, I don’t know, that’d feel pretty good,” Aidoo said.

Aidoo said he would advise any minority students who are thinking about attending BYU to make sure they’re prepared for the reality that being a minority in a predominately white institution can sometimes be uncomfortable.

“Everyone has different experiences and hardships, but specifically with skin color, it’s going to affect a lot of the way you see yourself and the way other people see you.”

He also said he hopes to see some changes on campus coming from the new committee that the university has put together to examine racial issues. Specifically, Aidoo said he wants BYU to add a clause on racism to the honor code so that people of color can feel safer knowing that racist remarks and actions can be reported and punished.

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