Breaking the silence

By Jenna Mastrolonardo
Staff Writer
As several Rolling Meadows students stand in the front of Jason Cohen’s Prospect sociology class, the two groups of students discuss the racial tensions between the schools.

“They talked about how they were perceived, and how they perceive,” Cohen said. “It was just open communication between the classes.”
Many of the Prospect students perceived Rolling Meadows as a “dirty place” and that the students were bad. On the contrary, the students from Rolling Meadows perceived Prospect as a “stuck up” school with “a lot of issues.”
“They got to understand just through communicating that the people they came into contact with didn’t fit all cases of stereotypes that they thought were going on,” Cohen said.
Indeed, a lack of communication plays a huge role in racism and stereotyping.
“I think any time you have a difference of individuals, and a lack of information about them, you’re going to start making your own opinions,” Cohen said. “When opinions are based upon essentially erroneous facts, it becomes what’s believable, and that’s what we define as a stereotype.”
Cohen says that the topic of racism is hard to talk about in the presence of other people, but it shouldn’t be pushed to the back of our minds.
“Those are topics that socially we tend to not want to discuss,” Cohen says. “And when they’re not discussed they stay around for a long time.”
To bring the topic of racism out of the silence, Seniors Allison Malwig and Katie Nopar began the group Weareable Hope for an entrepreneurship class.
“We were going to make Prospect spirit wear,” Nopar said. “But there’s a ton of it and obviously we had no room to squeeze ourselves in.”
Because of this, Nopar and Malwig decided they would start a group and align themselves with the YWCA, or Young Women Christian Association, a group that fights to eliminate racism and empower women.
“We decided to go with the more anti-racial/prejudice route because that sort of appeals to a more broader spectrum of people,” Nopar said.
Nopar’s mother had previously worked at the YWCA in Chicago, so she got to see first hand the effect it has on people.
“It’s a really great organization,” Nopar said. “They help tons and tons of women find jobs and education.”
The mission of Weareable Hope is slightly different than that of the YWCA. Weareable hope was designed to “get people to think with an open mind and not be so judgemental.”
Nopar and Malwig came across the title of their group after they made a spelling error while typing. Their name was originally intended to be “Wearable Hope,” but they had typed it “Weareable Hope,” and decided to use the typo. Weareable Hope also spells “we are able,” symbolizing how people can make a huge difference.
The group’s slogan, “Be colorblind” was designed to help people “see that everyone is equal and not be subject to racism or prejudice,” and it’s plastered on the group’s T-shirts as a reminder.
“It’s not a typical T-shirt,” Nopar said. “It’s not just words. It’s a cool design and there’s a deep message that I hope people will find, and not just judge the T-shirts as you would judge people.”
The shirt’s abstract design consists of black, gray and white paint splatters, as well as the group’s logo, “be colorblind.”
“Wearing the shirt obviously makes a statement,” Nopar said. “You see people wearing it, and they come up to you and ask you about it.”
Though the shirts are no longer on sale at Prospect, they can still be purchased. If a student would like to purchase a shirt, they can send an e-mail to¬†[email protected], to let Malwig or Nopar know.
“We wish and hope to get our message across and help generate enough knowledge and try to help the YWCA,” Nopar said. “We hope that more people step up and purchase a T-shirt.”