Writing on Wall event begins anew


Published: Monday, January 28, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 27, 2008 at 11:03 p.m.

Ana Martinez kneels on the ground and paints "I'm not smart because I'm a girl" on the pink brick that lies in front of her.

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Ana Martinez paints her brick, which will be part of the "Writing on the Wall" project. The wall will be constructed on the Plaza of the Americas today.

DANIELLE PETERSON/Campus correspondent

Martinez is painting one of 400 bricks that will be part of a 40-feet-by-9 feet cinder block wall of words and phrases that have once hurt or offended someone.

This sixth annual Writing on the Wall project, hosted by the Inter-Residence Hall Association, will have the wall built today in the Plaza of the Americas, where it will stand until Friday at 1:15 p.m., when participants will come together to pull down and destroy the wall and the individual bricks.

"The wall that is built represents a physical barrier and the psychological barriers that we have with people," said Brooke Meltzer, codirector of Writing on the Wall.

Tearing down the wall, she said, is symbolic of tearing down the barriers between us.

Meltzer said the project is held during People Awareness Week to increase awareness about intolerance and adversity in the world and to promote discussion about how words can impact people in a way that can be hurtful.

Martinez, a sophomore majoring in biology, explained the reasoning of what she wrote on her brick.

"I'll walk into my classroom and you can tell people think, 'Oh, she's a girl. She's going to fail,' " she said. "You don't even need words. Sometimes their looks can say everything."

Most of the phrases and words, Meltzer said, usually vary with the issue of the year.

She said the most common are based on race, social slurs and phrases that cut down women.

A new feature this year with the project are the "my brick says" slips of paper, which participants fill out and place in a binder after they've written on their brick so that others can look through the slips and learn its meaning.

Eli Badman, a junior at UF, painted "you are not allowed" on his brick.

"I think that that is a really cruel thing to say to somebody," he said. "For example, think of segregation when people couldn't even use the same toilets. It's just really cruel."

The closing ceremony and teardown on Friday will feature several prominent campus speakers and student groups, including Lesa Boykin, a performing artist and poet, and No Southern Accent, an a cappella group from UF, said Alexandra Smith, director of the closing ceremony.

"We hope this experience will be eye-opening about how words can impact people in a way that you don't think it could," Meltzer said. "You can ignore that you heard someone call another person a name, but you can't ignore a wall."

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