Earlier this year, first-year Master of Public Administration (MPA) student Paula Alejandra Norato co-founded “Movement United Recognizing Afro-Latinidad, Movimiento Unido Reconociendo Afro-Latinidad” (MURAL) in response to the systemic problems of COVID-19. Norato, who is at high risk of contracting COVID-19, was unable to physically protest and felt that donations and educating herself was not enough. Norato explains:
My call to action came when I tried having conversations with Latinx members of my community and found a huge misunderstanding of what the Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM) was, and an even bigger denial of the racism and colorism that exists within the Latinx community itself. Because of this, I gathered a group of peers to start MURAL and create access to education and discourse to develop our community.
MURAL recently collaborated with the campaign #IAMNOTAVIRUS. Mike Keo began this campaign with a portrait series that has expanded to a team of eight which is utilizing multiple platforms and resources to tell stories about COVID-19 related racism. Their Campaign Manager, Kelly Ha, is a UConn School of Social Work (SSW) student, and the campaign was featured by UConn Today in May.
Together MURAL and #IAMNOTAVIRUS developed a BIPOC Resource Guide out of a need for resources and representation at universities across the country. It became a way to support peers and call to action the importance of ensuring an inclusive environment for students.
BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) students currently account for more than 45 percent of the undergraduate population and almost one-third of the graduate population nationally.
This guide includes information on, but not limited to, mental health resources, reporting hate and discrimination, translation services, and healthcare. MURAL and #IAMNOTAVIRUS created this resource guide to assist BIPOC communities and ensure that they are met with acceptance, resources, and safety.
MURAL and #IAMNOTAVIRUS plan to continuously update this resource and encourage folks to fill out their online form to share resources they may have missed. They want all students to “Go Back to School in a Safe Way!”