Hannah Watson


What is your name, year in school, and area of study? What are your preferred gender pronouns?

Hannah, senior, Communications major and Diversity minor; she/her pronouns.

Why did you decide to pursue your major?

For communications, I have always been interested in working within the fashion industry and discovered that I want to do fashion public relations (PR). As UW does not have a program dedicated to PR, communications was the next best thing. The diversity minor kind of just happened; I went to a predominantly white high school and never felt I got to learn much about my own history, culture, and cultural ideologies in an academic setting, so every quarter I took some class relating to African American history, ethnic studies, or diversity. It ended up that by the time I learned about the diversity [minor], I had already completed all of the requirements.

Do you experience microaggressions from professors or students because of your identity? If so, can you describe an instance? What would you like others to learn from it?

I don’t feel like I personally have experienced many microaggressions during my time at UW. The only thing that I have found is that many professors have been very difficult/unwilling to provide help or guidance during my time in their class. I just always got the feeling that they were like, “Well you’re here, just figure it out,” so I just stopped asking. I did speak to an international student, however, and he told me that his teacher did not allow him to write a thank you letter to a guest speaker because English was not his first language and she wanted the letter to be grammatically “perfect”.

Do you think your gender plays a role in how you are treated on campus or in the classroom—positively or negatively?

I do not find my gender to have an impact on my experience at UW.

What are some ways in which you feel UW lacks diversity or community for Black students? What changes would you like to see?

More black students/students of color on campus; more black professors/professors of color; more curriculum that is inclusive of perspectives and ideologies from all cultures, not just the dominant/white.

What are your thoughts on this year’s presidential election?

I think Donald Trump’s running awakened a huge mass of radical / discriminatory Americans, and his being elected showed the rest of us just how many people who support these racist, sexist, etc. ideas there actually are.

How do you stay true to yourself when faced with adversities related to your race or gender?

I think I stay true to myself when faced with adversities because of my race simply by knowing who I am and what I know I am capable of. It also gives me strength thinking about how my ancestors persevered, broke barriers, and strived to build their own futures against obstacles and violence far worse than the hurdles I have come across.

If you had the chance to tell all white people something, what would you say?

Just to be inclusive, understanding, and empathetic. Also, if you can’t identify with the Black race—or any or group of people of color—identify on a human-to-human level. The things happening to fellow human beings and citizens of America are not right, and if you think of these issues as “human issues”, they are hard to be disputed.

If you had the chance to give advice to a young Black child, what would you tell them?

Strive for better, be educated, be informed, be active, stay awake to the happenings in our country. And, once you find your path, help others within our community to join you. We need to stick together.