April 30, 2012
The following is a reflection piece by Thomas Noah '15, an ALANA-A Brother. To read more from Thomas, visit www.tnoah55.blogspot.com
One of the activities we did for the training was to draw the idea Image of an ABS leader. Not going to get into details about it but one major charateristic my group's little ABS leader had was being open-minded. We literally drew him open-minded with symbols coming out of his head. A globe, a peace sign, a gay pride flag, and the cross and other religious symbols. The point is, I have always been an open minded person, but since I've been at Stonehill and involved with the Diversity program and ABS, my mind has been expanded. Well, mostly in a different way I can not explain. Being at stonehill definately made me realized not everyone come from the same walks of life. AkA not everyone grew up in a diverse environment, we all have different backgrounds. I am constantly reminding myself, mostly through Aristotle's philosophical theory of the identification of catharsis. AkA putting your self in someone else's shoes and identifying with that person. This help me understand majority of the time where people are coming from when they are being ignorant. In other words, stay patient and keep my cool. Patient and cool is definately not what the high school Thomas would have done. The aggresive, homofobic, sometimes ignorant and unaware Thomas. The don't give a dam what you think or say about me Thomas. In other words, I thought I knew it all.
My other favorite activity wasn't much of an activity, it was a movie called "The Walkout". It was basically a documentary about five students from East L.A who decided to make a difference. They stood up for their rights to a better and equal education against the school district. Persistence allowed them to continue to push on, despite the police brutality attempt to stop them. Despite all obsticles, they won over the school district and the public by starting a walkout. All it took was five brave and determained high school kids.
The gneral story reminds me of my own personal project, starting a wrestling club at Stonehill College. I currently have the support of Dean of Admissions Dan Monahan who is willing to coach, if everything go as planned. Unfortunately the Athletic Directors refused to get on board with us. Their excuse? "Budget cuts..Too many clubs, blah blah blahh..." Typical excuse they've given to students in the pass who attempted to start a program. Thanks to determination of those five students, I am not giving up anytime soon. I have three more years to make it happen!
Posted by Intercultural Affairs at Stonehill College at 12:48 PM
March 22, 2012
Whenever I meet a group of people for the first time -- via workshops, classes, or training sessions that I facilitate -- one of my favorite introductory exercises starts like this: "One thing you can't tell just by looking at me is __________. That's important for me to share with you because _________." Participants are then asked to complete the sentences and share with the others their answers. Mine usually goes like this:
"Hi! My name is Liza. One thing you can't tell just by looking at me is that I am an avid runner, I have run half marathons, and I am incredibly physically fit. That's important for me to share with you because I am a plus-sized woman, I wear a size 16, and most people assume that women with my body are lazy, fat, and don't care about their health. I'm here to tell you that I'm fit, fabulous, and love how strong my body is both inside and out."
As we go around the room, people share interesting details about themselves and why those details are so important to them. We then talk about how we often judge people by how they look and the dangers of making assumptions about folks.
As the mother of a son with brown skin, the wife of a husband with brown skin, the aunt of nephews with brown skin, the sister of brothers with brown skin, and a mentor to many young people with brown skin, I am terrified by the death of young Trayvon Martin and of the death of DJ Henry (a young college student from my hometown). The men and boys in my life already have learned the rules of "looking suspicious" (rules that the young white males in my life do not need for survival).
But, when they have done everything right, and still get hassled, treated as suspicious, or worse, beaten or killed, what is there left to tell them?
Do I tell my son to not leave the house? To never wear a hoodie? As he gets older, we will tell him to always carry ID, to be well spoken, polite to law enforcement, and to cooperate if he is ever pulled over or pulled aside. Though he may be angry at what is happening to him, he will learn that his anger in the face of authority will rarely lead to a good outcome. He will make decisions about whether or not he will want to, or whether his heart will call him to rise up, protest, and refuse to be treated poorly. And, my husband and I will support him. We will love him through the struggles that come with being a young, brown man in our society. We will love him through the "it's not fair!' and the "why me?" and the "why are they treating me this way?" Because we have been there, and unfortunately, hearts and minds don't always change quickly.
The other day, Joli said to me, "Mommy, if you were a smurf, I'd call you Beauty Smurf." I replied, "Oh! You're so sweet! You think I'm beautiful?" She said, "Well, no, actually. I'd call you Beauty Smurf because you like to put on so much makeup that it covers up your beauty. So, if I call you Beauty Smurf, maybe you'll stop. Your face is pretty, brown, and beautiful."
Pretty. Brown. Beautiful.
One thing I hope my children, and all children of color, can tell just by looking at me is that being brown is a blessing. It is beautiful. Being brown does not mean we are suspicious. Wearing a hoodie does not make us suspicious. We are people. We have futures.
And that's important for me to share with you because a family, a community, and a world lost another young person simply because of how he looked.
When my brother-in-law, an African American man, turned 25 years old, my sister wanted to throw a party -- not just to celebrate his birthday, but also to celebrate an age that many young, Black men do not reach because of violence. On Saturday, my beautiful, brown son is turning 3 years old.
I pray each year that he has many, many, many more. And, I pray that we create a society together that embraces -- and does not condemn -- him for how he looks.
Peace, love, dignity and humanity,
Posted by Intercultural Affairs at Stonehill College at 11:05 AM