For a couple months I have been toying with the idea of sending off a press release to expose my college for discrimination. So far I have written two press releases, each with a different slant. I have composed a list of contacts that I want to send it off to. Right now I am in that final stage, making sure this is something I really want to do and realizing what it would mean if the truth were exposed.
My boyfriend and I were talking recently about how we are in the stage right now where life is hard, we are still trying to recover from the fire, but we can see a comeback in the horizon. We can both see in our visions a more meaningful life, where we will look back at this time and the times immediately following the fire and be grateful that we got through it, but now as a result we are stronger individuals.
With this said, I have been thinking about how I have allowed people, events, places to consume me and make me feel powerless. Yes, I was powerless over the fire, there was nothing I could have done to change the situation. However, I do have power now to take control of my life and stand up for my rights.
I have been holding onto anger I have towards my school for not supporting me after the fire and at times making me feel more of an outsider rather than part of the community. Three weeks after the fire I went back to school to finish my spring semester. I mustered up enough strength to attend classes even though I barely had anything: I had limited clothes (only the ones that were donated), my apartment was still not completely furnished,I no longer had art supplies I needed, and most importantly I lost my portfolio, which I needed for my major.
Crying most days before classes I pushed myself to get up and go, even though times were hard. Some teachers were supportive, while many just lacked any sense of humanity. People that I expected to come out of the woodwork and help me actually made my life more difficult. I struggled the most with my graphic design classes because I lost my portfolio and my Macbook computer. I needed my portfolio because every Spring there is a portfolio review and you have to pass in order to take classes for the next semester. Without my artwork I had recreate everything that I lost and also work overtime to meet the demands of the semester at hand.
Needless to say, I made it through my sophomore and junior year following the fire. The Design department was extremely challenging at times, making harsh comments pushing me over the edge. They didn’t understand how hard I was trying and I couldn’t be at the same level as the other students because I just lost my portfolio. I was working three times as hard as the other students, but they couldn’t see that. They couldn’t see me running around to get art supplies that I lost, trying to find money to buy materials that I needed, and spending relentless hours trying to recover lost files. Instead all they chose to see was someone that was not like other students, that required more attention than other students, someone that they would rather tuck under the rug than exert the effort to give me a fair chance.
The catalyst was when I didn’t pass my junior year graphic design portfolio. I was working as hard as I could, even getting sick at times because I was pushing myself too hard. Since this Spring I have held onto anger, second guessing myself as s designer, believing at times that they were right, maybe I wasn’t any good. This lead me into a depression, pulling my anger inwards, getting mad at myself rather than seeing the obvious.
Today, I feel like I don’t have to feel helpless. I plan on advocating my rights as an artist, fire survivor, student and consumer. I don’t have to let other people’s opinions dictate my feelings. Most students that didn’t pass the review, and this year was odd because half the class didn’t pass, (which is an issue in itself) would just accept the fate. Even students in the past that haven’t passed might have thought the same as me. However, I don’t believe that I don’t have to sit back and do nothing when I know something is wrong. In order to bring change, people need to be aware when a situation is wrong. My school is wrong in this case, they should have been more sensitive to my needs and the other students that didn’t pass. My goal is to send my press release off and hope for the best. Even if its not published, I would feel good knowing that at least I tried to bring about change.
You can read my two press releases here.
- My Life After the Fire (firesurvivors.com)