Sophomore spreads message of equality through Young Women of Color club

Sophomore+Katie+Williams+participates+in+the+Young+Women+of+Color+club%2C+where+members+can+discuss+their+experiences+and+promote+the+accomplishments+of+different+women+of+color.

Olivia Adams

Sophomore Katie Williams participates in the Young Women of Color club, where members can discuss their experiences and promote the accomplishments of different women of color.

Olivia Adams, Reporter

Wanting to increase her connections at the start of middle school, U-High sophomore Katie Williams joined the Young Women of Color club.

But since recent racial injustices against people of color, Katie became more aware of racial issues embedded in society after recent injustices against people of color. She already knew the importance of racial justice topics, but those  events motivated her to act more and to connect with other people of color.

“I thought it would be an opportunity where I could relate and resonate with people who I looked like and we could all share similar experiences,” Katie said.

Known as a place where members can share ideas and action plans to spread awareness about the experience of being a woman of color, the club spreads positive and successful accomplishments of different women of color outside the school community.  

“I really want to increase communication throughout the schools. I feel like in Lab, since we’ve been together for so long, everyone is in a bubble,” Katie said, “but if we could have cross communication, we could limit the biases and have more unity within the school, which would just strengthen the Lab community.” 

Members of the club orchestrate events like panel assemblies, women of color faculty conferences, mentorships and read alongs with younger students at the Lab Schools.

Outside of Young Women of Color, Katie is involved in leading workshops for the BRAVE conference and is also part of an organization called the Student Diversity Leadership Conference. The organization provides a place where students converse about diversity, equity and inclusion while networking and building community. Within the organization’s community, Katie is also part of a Jack and Jill chapter where she and her peers hold events and protests centered around the idea of racial equality.

“I enjoy the benefit of being part of SDLC, which was my favorite experience through Lab, where I could talk to many people from around the world about DEI. It was just a very liberating community,” Katie said.

During her earlier years at Lab, being one of the only girls of color in her peer group took a toll on Katie mentally. She felt like she didn’t fit the “typical” beauty standards but instead was stereotyped and had biases pushed upon her by other people. These experiences drove Katie to increase her involvement in different DEI-related activities.

“I’m trying to honor my identity with most of my peers at Lab not looking like me, and battling insecurities with beauty standards,” Katie said.

I’m trying to honor my identity with most of my peers at Lab not looking like me, and battling insecurities with beauty standards.”

— Katie Williams

Especially when working with and mentoring younger children, Katie wants to share her experiences in order to help those who struggle with their identity because of racial biases or stereotypes.

Katie feels a strong obligation to be part of these organizations in order to broadcast the struggles of constantly having implicit biases pushed on women of color and condemn the stereotypes and implicit biases students at Lab might have.

“An example of a bias I have experienced was every time I changed my hair I always got ‘Ah you look so different,’ or ‘Oh my god how long did it take,’ or ‘Wow all those parts in your head, that’s crazy,’ or people would just start touching my hair,” Katie said.

Her focus on bringing visibility to racial discrepancies comes not only from her past experiences but also from the impact on her of recent incidents of racial injustice. Like thousands of other people across the globe, Katie saw the video that went viral in 2020 of George Floyd, who was killed in the street due to police brutality. This scene greatly impacted Katie. 

“It was just a moment of shock, and I really didn’t know how to process it and what to do. With my Jack and Jill chapter, we created a protest, and my main goal with that was just to show people that we need equality in our society in order to have equality,” Katie explained.

As Katie continues her work as a member of Young Women of Color, the Student Diversity Leadership Conference and her Jack and Jill chapter, she hopes to increase communication throughout the school and unite U-High students. Her goal of spreading equality at Lab is just a start, and she hopes to continue her work with DEI in college.