“I went to a predominantly white school from kindergarten to eighth grade,” said Sociology major Sanaa Scott-Wheeler ’24. “I’ve basically been experiencing racial inequality my entire life. I had to go through that switch from being at home and being black and then going to school and being black around white kids.”
Such racial inequalities led to Scott-Wheeler’s political motivation. After attending a predominantly white school, Scott-Wheeler went to Science Leadership Academy for high school and found support at the Black Student Union, which she took back to her elementary and middle school and helped put into place.
“I didn’t have a choice not to do it,” said Scott-Wheeler, who is part of the Civic Scholars program at Arcadia University. “Sociology is what’s always felt natural to me—being a wallflower and studying people.”
During the summer 2019, Scott-Wheeler attended demonstrations protesting treatment of children and families at the Mexico border. She recalls her first demonstration that summer, where she yelled so much that she lost her voice the day after.
This summer, due to limitations from Covid-19, Scott-Wheeler provided support and resources to her friends who attended Black Lives Matter protests, including logistical information, what to do if you get tear gassed, and what to bring with you.
“We were all at a crossroads between protecting our health and fighting for what's right,” said Scott-Wheeler. “A lot of times today it's easy to ignore people who are in trouble because it doesn’t impact you. So, it was a tough decision for me to make to not go in person, but I have too many people in my family who were [immuno-compromised and] at risk of Covid.”
Scott-Wheeler is looking for more ways to assist while protecting the health of her loved ones, such as through social media.
“It's very easy to post,” said Scott-Wheeler. “It's a thing of wanting to do something because of trauma and it's another thing to do something because you care. So that's what I'm really trying to make sure I'm doing things effectively and I think Civic Scholars was the best way to learn how to do that.”