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Power 2 Change: Alexandra Ritchie

Published: Jul. 30, 2020 at 10:28 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - As a community resource, WBAY-TV2 knows we need to do more, to advance the conversation about race in Northeast Wisconsin.

This is the Power 2 Change.

Alexandra Ritchie works in higher education, in the admissions office at UW-Green Bay.  Earlier this year following social justice protests, Ritchie penned a letter to her colleagues about issues of race, and ways that UWGB could have an impact on the entire student body.

Ritchie speaks about the ways she believes educators can, and should, lead the way to provide opportunities for all students. 

“My name is Alexandra Ritchie. I grew up in a small town in southeastern Wisconsin named Waldo. My mom grew up in the Sheboygan county area, and my dad emigrated from Jamaica in the 1990′s.

Race has been at the forefront of my life, there’s no escaping it. I first encountered racism in the first grade, when a group of students boycotted chocolate milk, because it was gross like the color of my skin.

I’ve also had battery acid poured in my hair. I’ve had cars jump curbs to yell at me to go back to where I came from.

I was diagnosed with clinical depression at age 12. At 15, I had a classmate tell me that they would be ashamed to have n-word babies. And by 16 I was suicidal.

So this isn’t something I can forget about at the end of the day. It’s something I live every day.

At UW-Green Bay, I am a marketing and communications recruitment coordinator. So I work in the office of admissions, doing a lot of their digital outreach to prospective students.

It was actually leadership’s idea for me to write a letter. They wanted to give me space to lay forward what was on my heart and it’s not something I expected, but I’m complete grateful for it.

I stayed up and wrote that letter at 2 in the morning, and sent it off the next day. Before you knew it, it was out.

I think what I was really trying to get across with the letter was to take a step back and reevaluate our processes. Why do we hold the biases that we hold? How can we make a more level playing field?

And so, being able to see UW-Green Bay step forward and say ‘ok we’re going to start looking into--not just merit based scholarships, but need based scholarships.

We’re going to start reworking our curriculum, we’re going to continue to grow our inclusivity on campus that was really special for me to see.

There is so many place that systemic racism hides. And you really have to think about your daily interactions to be able to find it.

For example, the easiest one was me putting out merit-based scholarships. Our education system is funded based on property taxes, which are typically lower in areas that house people of color.

Then also testing also decided where funding comes from schools. So these schools that are already underfunded, with students already failing behind continue to be underfunded because they can’t do as well.

It’s a vicious cycle, that can’t be broken unless we do something intentional about it.

I am so proud to be part of this University. I walked on campus for my interview, and by the time I left I know that this was not only a place that I would exist and have a job, but I would thrive and be accepted for who I am, and actually be able to contribute to the conversation.

I feel like that’s a rare thing in higher education. To have someone entry level like me, to really be able to shift how we look at things. I could not be more pleased with the job UW-Green Bay is doing.”

Click here to read Alexandra Ritchie’s letter to UWGB.

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