March 31, 2011


Each month, we feature posts written by the work study students in the Intercultural Resource Center. These works are unedited and are in their own words.

Why I Chose Stonehill by Johnny Josephy

I chose Stonehill College because it is a beautiful campus, I like the competiveness of the classes, and most importantly Stonehill really helps people financially. I did not really know the reality of Stonehill College until a few weeks of experience.  I have notice that people are friendly and willing to help you, and this school is not really for those who love to party all the time and hates doing school work. There are not a lot of people of color at Stonehill College, and certainly not a lot of French people of color.  I feel like in certain occasion, being as diverse as I am helps me accomplish things that I have accomplished at Stonehill.  For example, when I applied to be a peer mentor, I did not look at how many people applied for it.  All I had to do was to be myself and let my inside voice speak for itself both on my essay and interview. 
            The only “down side” of being French and having a French accent is sometime having to repeat what you  are trying to say a couple times before someone gets the message.  Some students here at Stonehill, mostly my teammates and close friends, enjoy imitating the way I speak.  I do not mind that at all because it is who I am and I cannot change the fact that I grew up with French and not English.
             Being a black student-athlete, mostly a football player here at Stonehill, I feel like everyone is trying to get you and at the same time respect you. I say that because every time something bad happens on campus, I heard that some of the questions they ask are and I quote, “Was he a football player?” And when the answer is “yes”, their reaction pretty much says, I knew it.  Being one of the few black kids in my classes, the professors easily know when I am participating or not participating.
            At the end of the day, I am proud to be a French black student-athlete. It does not matter of who you are, the color of your skin, or your background, it all comes down to who wants to be successful.  I strive to perfection. I use my culture diversity to my own advantage.

By Wanny Munoz:

“Listen, Digest, Speak”
Written By: Wanny Munoz

Think about all the people you come in contact with throughout your lifetime
Hundreds, thousands even millions
From your bank teller to your mechanic, they all have an identity.
A story.
One they can call their own

Within those stories roots Diversity.

Ever thought that maybe life would be a little easier
If half the time you spent judging a person, you were asking them a valid question
Every question would be taking one step closer to their reality
Another step to education and understanding

People are afraid of the unknown
But avoiding what we call unknown is never expanding, never learning, never living
Why else do we live if not for those very things?

Within those fears roots Diversity.

I know I am not the only one that didn’t choose the family I was born into,
Didn’t choose to be the daughter of two immigrants either
The same way I didn’t choose to be a bisexual woman
Some parts of our identity are out of our hands

Within those traits roots Diversity

Who doesn’t seek acceptance?
No one.
Acceptance from family, peers, even mere strangers, but most importantly from ourselves.
The image a mirror reflects can be difficult to embrace,
The perceptions others have are always hard to erase

Who we are and who we want to be don’t always correlate
The changes you seek aren’t the ones you might necessarily need
But still you search and move along towards who you believe you want to be

Within this constant search roots Diversity

Diversity is the compilation of stories
Those that have been past down for centuries
Each narrator along with its audience filled with fear.
A fear that never sleeps,
A fear that comes hand in hand with judgement
A judgement that only sleeps once it’s faced with acceptance
An acceptance we all long for and seek
And from all that emerges another story
Giving another narrator the chance to speak

Within this cycle roots the meaning of Diversity

From Randall Phyall, Coordinator of Intercultural Affairs
What’s in a name?

In a speech I gave a few weeks ago at the Black History Month Convocation, I made reference to my name and its significance throughout my identity development. My name was given to me by my parents, whom sought to create a world in which my every goal was attainable. Whether they did so consciously or subconsciously, my name played an integral role in the construction of this world—my world.

Growing up, my name did not have as much significance to me. On the occasion that it was misspelled or mispronounced, I tended to excuse it rather quickly. In fact, I appreciated it when my friends would use variations of my name such as “Ran, Pholly, Randoo, or Rizza” because I viewed them all as terms of endearment. I felt like I was a part of the “in-group” and therefore felt validated.

In our last M.O.S.A.I.C. (men of color group) meeting, we did an activity that asked members to reflect on the significance of a name and the role that it played in identity development. The activity required them to list their reactions to each of the nine names listed. The names were not fabricated and ranged from outlandish to culturally-specific. The activity was rather simple, but the dialogue to follow was substantial. When asked to share their reactions, the men were able to offer myriad perspectives. Some of the responses referred to the status, ethnicity, reputation, values, profession, character, family background, culture, and many other distinguishing characteristics. It was rather interesting to see how much was drawn out of simply reading someone’s name.

If we apply it to real-world contexts, how often do we make assumptions of or pass judgment on others based on their name? This seemingly insignificant nuance has a lot more power to it than I thought. A name alone has the ability to divide, marginalize, and oppress people. On the other hand, a name has the ability to communicate status, authority, ownership, and honor. This activity helped to heighten my level of appreciation for my name and my parents who gave it to me.          

 Over the past few years, I have developed a deeper sense of attachment to my name; my “government name” so to speak. When I use the name Randall Laurence Phyall, I am representing my family as well as me. I have a feeling of pride and responsibility when I think about how intentional my parents were in choosing each part of my name. For example, “Laurence” is the extended version of my father’s first name Larry. I often envision my father entrusting it to me almost as if it’s an artifact being passed down from generation to generation. Therefore, it is my responsibility to portray an image of myself that is a testament to the values, beliefs, and culture in which I was raised.

Ultimately, I take ownership of my name.  Despite the many ways in which others can misperceive me because of it. Taking ownership, affords me the right to create my own sense of meaning behind my name. My name is the foundation on which I base my identity. Therefore, a name is something that I seek to legitimize not minimize.   

-Randall Phyall



An absolutely fabulous post from!

On intersectionality and toxic body culture

This guest post comes from Sayantani DasGupta, an incredible woman working at more intersections than most of us wrap our minds around in a given day. A short bio can be found after the jump.
Is toxic body culture a white women’s issue? (The answer is no, but read on…)
I recently was invited to attend the Endangered Species Summit in New York, one in an international series of summits organized by Courtney Martin, The Women’s Therapy Center, and others. Although I knew I was to speak with a powerhouse panel of women on globalization and medicalization, and I also knew Courtney’s commitment to diversity and a feminist intersectionality (thinking about gender oppression in the context of race, class, sexuality, etc., see here), my first thought on entering the room was “this issue isn’t relevant to me.” It was a strange, visceral reaction that wasn’t about who was present in the room, but how (I assumed) the argument was being framed.

My feelings of alienation took only a few minutes to dissipate – when Jean Kilbourne made clear that media representation of women’s bodies couldn’t be understood  without understanding the mechanics of capitalism and consumption; when comedian and performer of the one-woman show “Fat Bitch” Erica Watson said that her grandmothers’ generation was unable to worry about how people saw the size of their bodies because “they were too busy trying to keep their men from getting lynched.” But until I heard people on stage make those broader connections explicitly, I felt shut out of the discussion and the summit’s agenda. Why is that?
As a little brown girl growing up in the heart of the Midwest, the ‘toxic body culture’ I lived in was not only to do with my gender, but firmly with my race/ethnicity. I believed I was unattractive not because I was a girl and couldn’t live up to the images of beauty around me, I believed I was ugly because I was a brown girl and couldn’t live up to the beauty standards around me.

The very first essay I ever sold was called Glass Shawls and Long Hair: A South Asian Woman Talks Sexual Politics, and it appeared in the March/April 1993 issue of Ms. Magazine. In it, I wrote:
As a child, I believed my self to be intolerably ugly. I know now I was not the only little brown girl to be ashamed of her skin color, her name, her difference. I was not the only person asked if she rode elephants, or slept in a tepee, or ate snakes. Mine was not the only skin to be rubbed by little white hands to see if the ‘tan’ would come off. The insidious victimization robbed us of the power to identify it as racism.

Similarly damaging, I wrote, was any false sense of exotic beauty, a self-Orientalization of ankle bells, glass shawls and long hair.

It’s ironic, in fact, that I felt initially alienated from a summit on embodiment politics when that is the very heart of my life’s work. Originally trained in pediatrics and public health, my writing, teaching, and thinking now occur at the intersection of narrative, health and social justice. I am committed to issues of representation and embodiment vis a vis. gender, race, reproduction, illness, disability, queer and transgender experiences, etc. In fact, when I heard the name of the summit, I actually thought it referred to the “100 million missing girls and women” around the world (see essay by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen) – the global demographic gender imbalance resulting from female fetocide (the practice of aborting female fetuses after amniocentesis or preimplantation genetic diagnoses), nutritional and other forms of daughter disfavor, and violence against girls and women.

To me, I cannot think of my own embodiment any more without thinking of my body in the context of these broader social forces, and in alliance with these other, global bodies. While, as a mother of a six year old girl, I cringe at pink princess culture, Abercrombie and Fitch’s new, padded bikini tops for little girls, or reports of eight year olds getting botox injections, I also feel committed to understanding these phenomenon operating around my daughter (and my 8 year old son) in the context of globalization, capitalism, racism, gender oppression, heteronormativity and the like, while recognizing my own potential role in the perpetuation of these inequalities.

So no, toxic body culture isn’t a white woman’s issue. It’s not even a woman’s issue–it’s all our concern. But only if a discussion of advertising happens within an understanding of consumerism, if beauty standards are discussed alongside able-ism or the oppressions of gender and sexuality binaries, if local embodiment politics is contextualized within broader global forces.

As I wrote in that long ago essay on beauty politics: “Our beauty must come from a critical understanding of the forces at work around us… it must rise from within our individual and among our collective selves.”

Sayantani DasGupta is a physican and writer, originally trained in pediatrics and public health, currently a faculty member in the master’s program in narrative medicine at Columbia University and the graduate program in Health Advocacy at Sarah Lawrence College. She teaches courses on illness and disability memoir, and narrative, health and social justice. Sayantani’s scholarly work in the field of feminist health science studies, most recently looking at transnational surrogacy, what’s been called the Indian ‘wombs for rent’ phenomenon. She is a widely published and nationally recognized speaker on issues of narrative, health care, race, gender and medical education. She is the co-author of The Demon Slayers and Other Stories: Bengali Folktales, the author of a memoir about her education at Johns Hopkins, and the co-editor of an award winning collection of women’s illness narratives Stories of Illness and Healing: Women Write their Bodies.

March 28, 2011


Each month, we highlight some of the reflective posts of our work study students. Unedited, they blog about observations, experiences and thoughts about diversity in their lives as seen through their lenses.

Today's post is from Ariel, a multiracial student at Stonehill:

       Mixed race literature is a genre by authors and about individuals who identify as being mixed-race. This ranges from Native-European, African-European, Native-African American, and other multiracial identities. I feel as if the majority of these writers collectively dread the idea of being limited to only one category or genre of literature because some might think they are responsible for multiple identities. Lately I’ve been reading works by contemporary Native American authors who are challenging their audiences to view topics of mixed- blood individuals as a subsection of Native literature rather than a collection of works which “question the authority” of Native American identity. What I’ve also noticed is both Native Americans and African Americans are similar in the sense that their histories are plagued by the paradigm of the colonizer versus the colonized.
       Thomas King’s You’re Not the Indian I had in Mind is an essay which analyzes the complexities of Native American identity. King, who is of Cherokee and Greek decent, attempts to lightly address the subject of how his culture’s identity is essentially shaped by the perceptions of white America,
“Of course, outside grant selection committees and possibly grants at the new and improved U.S. border crossings, not many people ask these questions. They don’t have to. They’re content simply looking at you. If you don’t look Indian, you aren’t. If you don’t look White, you’re not” (King, 56).
Native American mixed bloods do not have such a place “in between” like the tragic mulattos in African American literature who belong in neither the White nor Black world yet rather their own category. You are either a part of the White man’s world or the Native one, there is no happy medium and do not have the luxury to choose or float among the two worlds. 
       Zora Neale Hurston, a mixed race African American who claimed that she “neither considered it an honor or a shame” to being multiracial. That always surprised me that Hurston felt that way because from the books that I’ve read by her she continuously, whether its subconscious or not, discusses the dilemmas of those who are mixed.  Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God is a novel regarding  the life of an African American woman striving to gain a grasp on her identity while living up to her expectations as a young woman in the early twentieth century. Janie Crawford discusses the complexities of love, feminism, and a search for independence. Her individual quest for liberty is closely linked to her internal struggles regarding her restrictions to race. The basis for this book is a series of reflections by Janie where she is attempting to recount certain memories from her past to her friend Pheoby. In one particular recollection she describes an event from her childhood where she first noticed that she was different from her peers,

“So when we looked at de picture and everybody got pointed out there wasn’t nobody left except a real dark little girl with long hair standing by Eleanor. Dat’s where Ah wuz s’posed to be, but Ah couldn’t recognize dat dark chile as me. So Ah ast, ‘where is me? Ah don’t see me’
(Hurston, 9).

Janies’ mother, like so many other black women before her, fell victim to the sexual control of a white man. Therefore Janie Crawford is of mixed race yet she has never consciously thought of herself to be that way since she has been raises among white people.  Thus to her disappointment she learns that the little dark girl that the other children were making fun of in the picture is in fact herself and her only defense is her exclaim in dismay that, “’Aw, aw! Ah’m colored!’” (Hurston, 9).

       The one thing that always resonates after reading or listening to stories such as theses is the bittersweet reality and realization of what it truly means to be multiracial:  an endless personal journey of self discovery which originates with one complex crisis and develops into a series of intricate questions. Not only who am I but where, what and who did I come from.

March 25, 2011


In a flurry of fantastic programs that are hosted at Stonehill College, two upcoming events are of particular interest as they address issues of social justice, equality, marginalization, and community.

Saturday, March 26, 2011 @ 7:00pm in the Dining Commons
Emmanual Jal, former War Child and current Hip Hop artist
For five years, young Emmanuel Jal fought as a child soldier in the Sudan. Rescued by an aid worker, he's become an international hip-hop star and an activist for kids in war zones. In words and lyrics, he tells the story of his amazing life.

Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 7:00pm in the Martin Institute
Tomi Reichental, Holocaust survivor
The subject of a documentary by Emmy-award winning Irish filmmaker Gerry Gregg, Reichental, now 75, lost 35 members of his family in the Holocaust. With the making the documentary, he broke almost six decades of silence to publicly explain what happened to him in 1944 as a nine-year old when he was rounded up by the Gestapo and dispatched with 12 members of his family to Bergen-Belsen.

Both of these individual stories remind us that little separates us from an experience that is based on bias against religious beliefs and ethnic identity. The Office of Intercultural Affairs is pleased to offer support to these two programs that truly speak to the issues of justice and advocacy.

Questions, please visit