A group of BYU students used skills developed in class to highlight their unique experiences and promote diversity awareness among BYU students and faculty
Evelyn Harper did not always want to be an advertising major — she thought she was destined for a career in biomedical engineering after watching both her parents work in the field. But after realizing she hated biology in high school, Harper glanced at the BYU major list, found advertising and never looked back.
Harper, who is graduating April 2021, has discovered a lot about herself and her future career goals during her time at BYU.
“I have learned what my potential is,” Harper said. “I never knew what was possible, and knowing that now is such a blessing and pushes me to work even harder.”
Aside from her academic endeavours, Harper is also passionate about creating a more culturally competent environment at BYU. Harper — along with around 40 other BYU students — recently released a project titled “Blindspot” which seeks to highlight problems that are potential blindspots among BYU’s social culture.
The project includes videos where large eyes on a screen follow people as they move, introducing students and faculty to the experience black students have being stared at on campus.
The project also showcases a photo and story series containing metaphorical photos and personal stories from black students explaining racially insensitive comments they have experienced like, “It must have been easy for you to get into BYU! All you had to say in your essay was, ‘I’m from Africa!'” and “I’m not saying you didn’t deserve it but my friend didn’t get in because affirmative action helped you.”
“There’s things we can sweep under the rug, but we need to allow minorities to express their concerns and feel heard and know that there is something being done,” Harper said.
“Blindspot” — launched during Black History Month — hopes to inspire people to learn more and become aware of the distinct experience many black students have at BYU.
“As someone who celebrates being part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but also identifies as a black woman, it was hard to transition to BYU both in and outside of the classroom,” Harper said. “We need a space in order for people to grow and change.”
The project was originally inspired by a conversation Harper had with fellow advertising student Harrison Brownell who posed the question: “What do you feel like people don’t understand about your experience?”
Harper’s creativity and involvement with this project has helped her find her voice and express her passion for inclusion and diversity.
“This project comes from a personal place of healing,” Harper said. “It’s been healing to think about how I can use my creativity to solve this larger problem.”
Using her experiences and knowledge as an advertising student, Harper wanted to uncover the messaging BYU students are receiving about diversity on campus.
“I’m using what I’m learning in class about people and messages to show how we struggle with racial issues and bias,” Harper said.
Although “Blindspot” only scratches the surface on inclusion on BYU campus, Harper believes the project will provide BYU students, faculty and administration an opportunity to grow in their understanding of minority groups as well as deepen their gospel knowledge.
“This project will only benefit those who want to be better representatives of Jesus Christ,” Harper said. “I just want to give people the opportunity to think about it.”
Visit checkyourblindspot.org and follow @projectblindspot on Instagram to learn more about the project.