Blacknificence: Celebrating Black Students, Faculty & Staff at Stonehill College

by Malik Voyard ‘19, Oury Bah ‘20 & Jonathan Bujambi ‘20

The 2017-2018 academic year has almost ended.  And as Black male collegians and active members of the Stonehill Community, we have experienced the very real negative impact of many of the assaults that communities of color, including immigrants, the indigenous, LGBTQIA+ people and other marginalized communities have been facing. We stand in solidarity with all such groups! We are in this together!

Given the continued increase in the public visibility of the assault, incarceration, and death of Black and Brown people, as well as the negative narratives, we wanted to take the time to celebrate the excellence, brilliance, magnificence and contributions of some members of the Stonehill community. These individuals have been central to our experiences navigating what it means to be Black on this campus, in this country, and world at this time of social media-facilitated visibility of public acts of anti-blackness. We are grateful to our friends, classmates, professors, and administrators for support over the last academic year and hope that they read this article with pride in our growth as recipients of the liberal arts education Stonehill provides.  In this article, we honor every Black and Brown or otherwise marginalized person on this campus. We seek to highlight the magnificence of a few Black students, faculty, and staff—which we would like to call Blacknificence. But let’s be clear, Blacknificence is the norm not the exception.

Graduating Black Student Leaders & Scholars

First, we honor the work of our graduating seniors, thank you for your academic and co-curricular contributions to the Stonehill College Community. Roberte Francois served as the President of the Afro-Caribbean Club (ACC), and her leadership was helpful throughout the year.  This was particularly evident in her planning and facilitation of the recently concluded dynamic and powerful ACC soiree. Azariah Boyd served as co-coordinator of Radiant, Inspirational, Sisters Empowered (RISE) and she choreographed the “Latin Meets Africa” dance in this year’s 10th Annual DiverCity Festival. The performance was solid in social commentary, electrifying in energy, as well as cathartic in helping us cope with our grievances against the losses of and prejudice against brothers and sisters in the past year. It was not a surprise that both Roberte and Azariah were recipients of 2018 Class Leadership Awards. Congratulations!

We also want to appreciate Jermel Wright, Yusif Samudeen, and Aaron Yemane, who served as great leaders for Men of Service Academia Integrity and Character (MOSAIC); our sunday night meetings were central to building community, even when we felt disconnected and mentally scarred. Thank you all! Your leadership has been crucial and inspiring for all women, men, and non-gender conforming people of color on campus.

And congratulations to all the Brilliant-Black minds who are a part of the Stonehill College graduating Class of 2018! Special congratulations to 2018 President’s Cup recipient Cristianie DePina and all other award recipients from the 2018 graduating class.

Impactful Events

Deeply saddened by many of the troubling events that have taken place in our country during the previous weeks, many students were encouraged, informed, and inspired by two significant events on campus recently. As many may recall, over the last few weeks, racial biases resurfaced in the public eye, and further showed us the prevalence of systemic racism in our day to day lives. A few of these incidents include:

  • The Starbucks incident where two Black men were arrested when waiting for a business meeting and the police apology that followed
  • The killing of 21-year-old DeEbony Groves, 20-year-old Joe R. Perez, 29-year-old Taurean C. Sanderlin, and 23-year-old Akilah DaSilva (1 Blackwoman, 1 Latinx man and 2 Black men), by 29-year-old Travis Reinking (a European-American man), and the altruistic act of 29-year-old James Shaw, Jr. (a Black man) to stop a Nashville Waffle House shooting); as well as
  • The physical assault, arrest, and exposure of Chikesia Clemons, 25 at a Waffle House.

These are just a few of the troubling incidents that have impassioned many of us as students who are driven by our vigorous commitments to social justice at Stonehill and in the wider world. Unfortunately, this article cannot address every incident at this time but we urge those who want to know more to research and stay informed.

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Students are engaged in a faculty panel led by professors Shawn Savage and Callie Watkins Liu in the IDEAS class, “The New Black Wall Street.” Learn more about the course’s impact here (BLOG POST LINKHERE).

In light of these aforementioned disheartening events, we feel it is necessary to mention the significance of experiencing the conclusion of the IDEAS course entitled “The New Black Wall Street” on Thursday, April 26, 2018. Yusif Samudeen ‘18, stated that he felt empowered by the course and panel, and that he believes that change starts by “educating ourselves, representing ourselves, and continuing to fight for respect and equal opportunities in America”.

Additionally, the enriching Afro-Caribbean Soirée on Friday, April 27, 2018 provided attendees with a celebration of cultures that span across the African diaspora and beyond. In her feedback on the keynote by Professor Savage, Azariah Boyd ‘18, said, “I think it was a great way to lead a discussion about racial issues while providing students with a way of analyzing race from a different perspective or outside of typical context.”

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A group photo of the attendees at the Afro-Caribbean Soiree on April 27, 2018.
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Professor Shawn Savage facilitates a vibrant discussion about racial oppression at the Afro-Caribbean soiree.

These experiences were both invigorating and timely for providing our community with learning experiences that were both stimulating for mental and spiritual growth, in line with Stonehill’s education of the heart and mind. We also wanted to take the time to honor: Professors Callie Watkins Liu (Sociology) and Shawn Savage (Education); Director Lee Farrow (Center for Non-Profit Management, Martin Institute); Director Constanza (“Connie”) Cabello, and Assistant Director Patrick Hale (Office of Intercultural Affairs). Your contributions throughout the year(s), and especially this last month have made us stronger and able to persist through finals. Thanks!

Meaningful Learning & Mentorships

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Photo credit: iStock by Getty Images.

Speaking of finals and motivation, it was extremely meaningful and empowering, during this 2017-2018 academic year, to have Faculty of Color and (for the purposes of this uplift and honoring article) Black faculty in particular, as professors and mentors. The three Black faculty who joined the Stonehill community in more-connected capacities this year, have been pillars of strength for so many of us, inside and outside of the classroom. Professor Callie Watkins Liu of Sociology & Criminology, Professor Shani Turner of Psychology, and Professor Shawn Savage of Education have really influenced us intellectually, motivated us academically, and supported us socially.

Nithalle Simoly ‘19 explained her experience with Professor Turner the Director for  her upcoming psychology internship. She said, “having Professor Turner as my internship advisor is really encouraging because I feel like I have someone who I can relate to and who will help me succeed!”

The sentiment conveyed by Simoly is felt across the community of students of color at Stonehill about other Faculty of color generally, and Black Faculty, specifically. But we also feel that the impact of these professors extends beyond the classroom and enters realms greater than Stonehill. They are mentors and examples of what it looks like to be a Black person navigating and excelling in a predominantly white institution– without losing your identity in the process. They guide us through the shock of entering classrooms and social gatherings where we are the racially and culturally minoritized; enlightening us on ways to maneuver such environments that all too often feel unnatural. When asked about her experience taking Professor Turner’s course, Otilia Monteiro ‘19 said:

Having a professor of color, specifically a woman of color, offered a perspective and dialogue in class that I needed my first year [but didn’t get]. Being able to have a Professor that can identify with and who validates my perspective and experiences was so impactful and created a dialogue that I felt was necessary in class.

Such comments highlight how our Black professors provide us with a level of security to be more immersed in the educational process. This and other reflective thoughts were shared by many other students. For example, when speaking on the importance of mentorship relationships from his Black professors as a first year student, Jean-Claude Ndayisabye ‘21 said, “these type of relationships and represented community are what make us thrive here at Stonehill.”

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Research indicates that students who achieve mastery learning and/or have access to mentorship are more likely to achieve academic success compared to those receive education through a conventional classroom. Photo credit: TechCrunch.

I (Oury Bah) can testify that with the guidance of Professor Savage, I have been pushed to bring out, and enhance my full potential to do well in college. Although at times I felt the limitations of my background held me back from being my best, with Professor Savage helps me to continue even in the face of struggle. Not only has he been a mentor to me, he also helped me develop a strong work ethic as a student and greater consciousness as a young man.  Honestly speaking, without his guidance I would not be able to do as well as I am today both academically and as a person of color attending a predominantly white institution. For real, I would not still be at Stonehill College if it weren’t for Professor Savage.

So to all our Black faculty thank you for everything you have done and continue to do. We honor you!

Finals have concluded and we have moved out (sadly), so we better wrap this up so we can be ready to tackle the summer with the energy of 1,000 suns. We simply wanted to lift up and honor everyone else who has been pressing on and surviving despite systemic racism and its material effects. So all the best for your future endeavors, whether you are leaving Stonehill or returning in the fall.

We hope to continue all of these well-needed conversations, teaching and mentoring relationships, and community building efforts as we continue to represent and celebrate Black Excellence in all its Blacknificence at Stonehill College and everywhere else.  #blacknificence #blackexcellence #stonehillcollege

Stay tuned for more musings from us in semesters to come…. For now, peace in the middle of South Side Chicago!


See the following links below to learn more about the highlights of Blacknificence shared by Malik, Oury, and Jonathan:

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The Close of IDEAS Course “The New Black Wall Street”

by Malik Voyard ‘19, Oury Bah ‘20 & Jonathan Bujambi ‘20

We honor graduating seniors Jermel Wright and Donovan Phanor who designed and co-facilitated the teaching of “The New Black Wall Street,” a course offered through the Integrating Democratic Education at Stonehill (IDEAS) program thisSpring 2018. Jermel Wright ‘18 explained his vision and rationale:

Black Wall Street was an event I didn’t know about until this past August 2017 (note that I had to find this on my own). It showed me the impact that Blackness had in thriving in the past 100 years. If I heard this as a teenager, I would’ve aspired to do more and achieve more. I never had the idea that Black people were so successful in business like this before. If I were taught this in classes, I would’ve aspired to be more successful in business and be like the people I learned about. If that history were a part of the infrastructure and lessons that Black youth receive, it would help my community as a whole and help the Black community as a whole. The fact that the devastation that the event caused– burning down hundreds of Black businesses (was obviously traumatic) but did not deter Black citizens. And to see a community rise up against that again and continue to achieve and strive towards reaching past the limits that society placed upon them is important for everyone to know, not just the Black community.

His co-facilitator, Donovan Phanor, explained to us what it meant for him and Jermel Wright, to teach a class about a component of the history of our people that is not taught in many institutions:

In my opinion, the New Black Wall Street gave Jermel and me an opportunity to share with others this important but whitewashed piece of Black history with our peers. Not only this, the conversations that we shared together were driven by an understanding that much of messages from the destruction of Black Tulsa are still present today. This subject is one that will remain relevant for decades to come because of how pivotal it is to see that even in the early 20th century, our people were not merely sharecroppers but successful business men and women eager to improve their standard of living, and thriving at that.

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Professors Shawn Savage (left) and Callie Watkins Liu (right) engage in conversation with the student participants in the IDEAS class “The New Black Wall Street.”

The course concluded with a panel about the interdisciplinary connections between education, sociology, and business.  The panelists were Professor Callie Watkins Liu of Sociology & Criminology and Professor Shawn Savage of Education. They engaged in conversation with ten registered students in the course as well as other student-guests who came to participate in the closing conversation.

Yusif Samudeen ‘18, an Accounting major who took the course said, “As a student of color, it was an eye opener for me to take the class because it gave an understanding of the type of economy we can have as minorities who are, and were at a disadvantage. It gave me a sense of how people of color can have a successful and strong economy in 1920’s Tulsa”. He explained how empowering it was for him and that we must “start by educating ourselves, representing ourselves, and keep fighting for respect and equal opportunities in America”.

Student-guest Samir Usuman ‘20 said, “My experience at the panel introduced me to a different perspective on Black culture. Black Wall Street is a subject I have never touched upon, so learning about this gave me new insight on Black people in America. The panel was even more engrossing knowing it was facilitated by bright young students my own age. The experience inspired me to one day follow in the same footsteps as my peers—to one day inform students on important aspects of the lost history of Black people”.

We honor Professor Watkins Liu and Professor Savage for their participation in the closing panel. And we honor Professor Savage for his mentorship of the two instructors this spring. Jermel and Donovan, thanks for your vision, and your contribution to helping the campus learn more about our community’s history, and the role everyone can play as entrepreneurs as well as consumers in the field of business today.

The instructors approached Professor Savage in the Fall 2018 to ask him to serve as mentor for the course.

Now that the course has come to an end, Donovan explained to us:

I found the importance of having a faculty member of color to be crucial. I think much of these conversations, when had with someone who may not understand the dynamic we are trying to teach from, or the struggle we share, is very difficult. Professor Savage brought not only his insight, organization and expertise to the table while mentoring us, but his genuine concern and appreciation for the topic could be seen through his commitment to our cause. Just as Jermel had a vision to teach an IDEAS course about this topic, Professor Savage had a vision to further this course’s impact for years to come.

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Jermel Wright ‘18 engaging with panelists Callie Watkins Liu and Shawn Savage as well as the IDEAS course participants.
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IDEAS course participants interacting with each other.

Afro-Caribbean Soirée 2018: Profound People, Profound Purpose.

by Malik Voyard ‘19, Oury Bah ‘20 & Jonathan Bujambi ‘20

The Afro-Caribbean Club (ACC) strives to educate the Stonehill campus about the different identities within the Afro-Caribbean community. It believes in empowering its members to develop a deeper understanding about different cultures across the African diaspora and celebrating those cultures—unapologetically! ACC engages in conversations about race, equity, and different issues facing Black and Brown people in this country.

This year’s Afro-Caribbean Soirée continued that mission. The third annual ACC event celebrated and affirmed the community of diversity on Stonehill College’s campus (we believe more events like these must be celebrated and funded). There were approximately 50 people in attendance and everyone was allowed to audibly share their name, nationality or lineage. The following countries or ethnicities were represented: Haiti, Jamaica, Cape Verde, Ghana, Guinea, Republic Congo, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Dominican Republic, Egypt, India, Italy, Greece, China, other parts of Europe, and of course, African-American. We all came together to indulge in a celebration of Black excellence unapologetically.

The front of the stage/podium was decorated with many vivid visual pieces of art and statistics on incarceration. There were also printed works of art on every table. Outgoing ACC President Roberte Francois ‘18 opened the evening, and invited everyone to enjoy the Afro-Caribbean cuisine spread that was prepared for us by Jocelyn Aurelien, Executive Chef for Sodexo at Stonehill College. (Thank you, Jocelyn, for blessing us with your delicious cuisine.)

Later, Lee Farrow, Director of the Center for Non-Profit Management, explained that the various visual works of art in the room were produced by men who are imprisoned, and shared some of the statistics on incarceration and her volunteer work around this and its connection to education. We were then treated to a ‘keynote’ address like we have never experienced before. It was a riveting communal conversation led by Professor Shawn Savage of the Education Department, using music—with videos, images and lyrics—to shed light on the social activism of musicians in fighting against systemic anti-Blackness. Prominent Black artists who advocate for equal rights and shine light on the deprivations of Black America allow people of all demographics the opportunities to engage in dialogues that acknowledge and explore the brutal systemic racial and social paradigms that impact the lives of Black America and people of color collectively. Below is a listing of some of the songs sampled during Professor Savage’s talk:

  • “Waka Waka: This is For Africa” – Shakira (listen on Spotify)
  • “The Blacker the Berry” – Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly (listen on Spotify)
  • “Seasons” – Mozzy, Sjava & Reason, from the Black Panther motion picture soundtrack (listen on Spotify)
  • “Every Ghetto, Every City” – Ms. Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (listen on Spotify)
  • “Formation” – Beyoncé, Lemonade (watch on YouTube)
  • “Champion” – DJ Bravo, Champion [single] (listen on Spotify)
  • “Rise to the Occasion” – Sizzla, Rise to the Occasion (listen on Spotify)
  • “War” – Bob Marley & The Wailers, Rastaman Vibration (listen on Spotify)
  • “Alright” – Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly (listen on Spotify)

The above listing of songs provided us with messages that were simultaneously charged with celebration of black heritage and culture, and social commentary aiming to fight against anti-blackness. Oury Bah ‘20 provided technical assistance while Professor Savage engaged with the audience, and ACC President Roberte Francois  and Communication Chair Jonathan Bujambi ‘20 brought microphones all around the room as everyone (staff, students, and even the DJ) spoke on the issues of race, social justice, incarceration, education, equity, achievements, liberation and being unapologetically Black and proud. The songs were used as entry points for a dynamic and immersive discussion.

After we left, everyone could be heard talking more about the successful night.  Some students shared their feedback with us.

Cristianie DePina ‘18 said, “The ACC Soirée was such a beneficial event and one that should continue during the years. It is a way for students of color, particularly Afro-Caribbean students, to feel appreciated, celebrated, and unified in one space. A safe space that isn’t always provided or accessible at a predominately white institution.”

Mallia Francois ‘20 said, “The music videos were contemporary topics which I highly appreciated. The energy that Professor Savage brought to the presentation really made it enjoyable to take part in.”

Azariah Boyd ‘18 said:

The event provided space for students of color and white students to appreciate cultural dishes and celebrate each other’s cultural differences. I really enjoyed how Mr. Savage had everyone introduce themselves and their ethnicity, allowing everyone to get to know each other regardless of where they were sitting. His discussion-based presentation was focused on music. Music is universal but also delivers messages that aren’t often talked about. I think it was a great way to lead a discussion about racial issues while providing students with a way of analyzing race from a different perspective or outside of typical context.

I (Malik Voyard, ‘19) felt moved by the event: the artwork, and the keynote speech in particular. It was truly the most enlightening and worthwhile event that I’ve been to on Stonehill’s campus because it not only shed light on truth but it was interactive and forced everyone in the audience to participate in the learning experience. It was more of an exchange of knowledge and it accomplished its goal to “bring US together and to celebrate who we are unapologetically”. The paintings (provided to us by Lee Farrow) were done by talented brothers and sisters who are incarcerated. Their work brought to those of us who are outside of that environment, a sense of what it is like to be in the belly of the beast and continuing to persevere. The art work in conjunction with Professor Savage’s keynote speech was invigorating, insightful, and indiscriminately honest—while maintaining a sense of community and inclusivity throughout. It was clear that he aimed to both empower and teach; his positive energy was infectious and his passion to illuminate the truth was refreshing. Thank you, Roberte Francois, for putting together a much needed event on Stonehill’s campus for the Black student community.

The entire experience allowed us to be affirmed, celebrated, challenged, and encouraged as we finish the spring semester and, for some, our college career.  We ended the night with music, dance and dessert.

And we’ve all been reminded that we are champions, that our accomplishments and accomplices are important, and that ultimately, in the words of Kendrick Lamar, “We gon’ be alright!”

Truth is, we are somewhat ‘alright’ because of the work of the Office of Intercultural Affairs. We would not have made it throughout the year without its programming and support.  Its work has been central to our communities on campus.  Thanks to you all! Special thanks to Connie Cabello for her leadership! And, Patrick Hale, your direct work and support of MOSAIC, RISE, ACC and DiverCity are greatly appreciated. We honor and thank you both!

Real Talk, Real Walk: Learning and Mentorship with Black Faculty

faculty-blacknificenceby Malik Voyard ‘19, Oury Bah ‘20 & Jonathan Bujambi ‘20

The three Black faculty who joined the Stonehill community in more-connected capacities in 2017-2018, have been pillars of strength for so many of us, inside and outside of the classroom. Professor Callie Watkins Liu of Sociology, Professor Shani Turner of Psychology, and Professor Shawn Savage of Education have really influenced us intellectually, motivated us academically, and supported us socially. Coincidentally, we have learned that all three faculty were previously adjunct professors here. However, this year Stonehill College expanded their roles as part of our community. And what an impact they have had in the short time.  We can only imagine what the future holds for them and our campus from here on.

So in honoring them, we wanted to share some of what some students had to say about those learning and mentorship experiences this year.

I want to thank Professor Savage for not only being my mentor but a person that I can talk to about anything. I personally believe that for me to have met faculty of color such as Professor Savage and Professor Watkins Liu on campus inspired me and made me so happy. Especially as a first-year student who was still trying to adjust to a new life of college, learning and seeing a representation of my people in different academic departments here at Stonehill gave me a sort of assurance that my fellow students of color and myself are represented in some areas on campus. And these faculty members are available for us to talk to about anything. Whether it is our concerns about academics, getting advice from them or simply just catching up on life. These type of relationships and represented community are what make us thrive here at Stonehill.

This spring semester I had the opportunity to take Foundation of Education with  Professor Savage. I can assure you that even as an Accounting major, I do not regret taking EDU-102A at all. The course fulfilled the social science inquiry requirement but I learned so much about what it means to be an educator. At the end of the course, I learned that as an educator you are and can be a life changer by being open-minded and catering to the needs of students. Thus, to have had Prof. Savage as my professor for that course made my learning experience more profound.

—Jean-Claude Ndayisabye, Class of 2021

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Shawn Savage, Teaching Fellow of Education

I (Oury Bah) can testify that with the guidance of Professor Savage, I have been pushed to bring out, and enhance my full potential to do well in college. Although at times I felt the limitations of my background held me back from being my best, Professor Savage helps me to continue even in the face of struggle. Not only has he been a mentor to me, he also helped me develop a strong work ethic as a student and greater consciousness as a young man.  Honestly speaking, without his guidance I would not be able to do as well as I am today both academically and as a person of color attending a predominantly white institution. For real, I would not still be at Stonehill College if it weren’t for Professor Savage.

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Shani Turner, Visiting Professor of Psychology

Based on her experience as part of Professor Turner’s class, Otilia Monteiro ‘19 explained, “Having a professor of color, specifically a women of color, offered a perspective and dialogue in class that I needed my first year [but I did not have]. Being able to have a professor that can identify with and who validates my perspective and experiences was so impactful and created a dialogue that I felt was necessary in class.”

This desire for more Black faculty, and more faculty of color generally, seemed to have been echoed by so many other students. In fact in their discussion of a class they took with Lee Farrow (who has been at Stonehill since 2011), two of this year’s Black male graduands had very interesting things to share. For example, Donovan Phanor ‘18 said that:

Taking Prof. Lee Farrow’s class, “The Role of Non-Profits in America” (BUS357) this spring in my senior year, was the first time I had a Black professor as an instructor in my entire life—from kindergarten until now. It was great to see the immense expertise that she brought to the table. Her experience came with stories about how she had impacted people who look like me. And that resonated with me. Being able to view things in class that pertain to Black People made it so much more real to me, because that is not what it always is. I think being at Stonehill, a Predominantly White Institution, whether it be history, we are always learning history from a white man’s perspective because they have always historically been in a place of power. So being at a PWI, there is not always a space to talk about things pertaining to Blackness, and so having a professor that was Black made me more comfortable to be able to talk about things like this without feeling like I may be perceived as adversarial. But to be honest it was definitely disruptive (in a positive way) to what I had been accustomed.

Similarly, Jermel Wright (2018) who also took the same course with Lee Farrow, said:

It took me 4 years to really have a Black professor. She was my first one. It just speaks to the disconnect of the Black professors and Black students. She was my first professor of color in general. It was reassuring that there are Black men and women who desire to become teachers of whatever philosophy or major it may be, and [who] try to give back to the community. But I don’t think they (the President, Provost, and Dean)  realize the impact it has on the students, because it means alot that I feel closer to a professor solely on the reason that they’re Black. Our likeness connects us and makes even the most difficult class worth getting through because it makes me feel like I want to do well in this class to make her feel like there are students who care that look like us.

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Lee Farrow, Director of the Center for Nonprofit Management

As Black students all the actions we take in class reflect on her whether we like it or not, because people group us together. And it motivates me to be the best student I can be; it makes me even more determined to be a part of breaking the stereotypes. And just seeing Black people in those different lights helps us break down the negative stereotypes that are associated with our skin. If in my first year I had seen Black students and teachers giving presentations, and had seen those different successes, I would feel like this was a space where I could be successful regardless of the the fact it is a Predominantly White Institution.

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Callie Watkins Liu, Assistant Professor of Sociology

But those concerns were not just from these graduating seniors. For example, Vandy Hall ‘19 expressed that, “The one thing I hope changes by the time I leave Stonehill is [an increase in] the number of staff and professors of color. I have had the honor of being in two classes lead by people of color; the first ‘Racial & Ethnic Diversity’ with Professor Callie Watkins Liu and the second was ‘The New Black Wall Street’ with Donovan and Jermel. In these two classes I learned more about myself and who I am trying to become than I have in all of my other classes”.

As all our peers’ comments suggest, representation on college campus matters—not just of other students but also of faculty.  We are therefore very happy to have Black Faculty with whom we can now connect, learn, and find support and community.  Thanks Stonehill. We hope more efforts are made to help us sustain what we have started, and because there is something so significant about our learning and mentorship this year, we expect nothing less moving forward. #facts #realtalk #realwalk

We hope to share more musings with you in the future.

APIDA Heritage Month

APIDA

Calendar of Events

Keep It Reel presents
The Slanted Screen: Hollywood’s Representation of Asian Men in Film and Television
Tuesday, April 17 • 5:30-7pm • Duffy 149

Holi Festival of Colors
Saturday, April 21 • 1-2pm • Corr Hall Backyard
Sponsored by SGA Diversity Committee

APIDA Community Celebration
Featuring The Genki Spark
Monday, April 23 • 7:30-9pm • Martin Auditorium
Sponsored by the Stonehill Asian American Society and the SGA Diversity Committee

May is Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) heritage month, but the Office of Intercultural Affairs and Stonehill College would like to celebrate early! April will be filled with different events to celebrate the vast cultural differences among APIDA populations. So, what is APIDA? 

Asian Pacific Islander Desi Americans are a group of individuals whom identify with Asian, Pacific Island, and surrounding ethnic backgrounds, including Arab and Pakistani roots. These groups trace their traditions back to countries such as China, Japan, Vietnam, India, Laos, and many others. Asian celebrations may be some of the most colorful around the world. 

Color permeates throughout the culture and continent in traditions such as Holi (India), which is the festival of colors, and the many floral celebrations across Japan. Holi is a community celebration to mark the beginning of spring. During the festivities colors are thrown in the air and decorate the streets to celebrate. Some legends link the tradition back to a love story between two Hindi dieties. Japan uses color to celebrate the return of spring and beauty of summer through flower festivals. Some of these festivals are well known such as the blooming of the sakura (Cherry Blossom). People travel the world to engage in the beauty of Japan and its floral treats like the Kawachi Fuji Garden’s Wisteria Festival. 

Please join us in celebrating the beauty and color of APIDA cultures and traditions this month! 

Incredible Women of Color

Women’s History Month is a time to celebrate the amazing accomplishment of women around the globe. While we strive to honor all women, we would like to celebrate the powerful nature of women of color. In the face of social injustice based upon race and gender these women rise above and dominate their landscape. We would like to showcase a few strong powerful women for their contributions to society and social justice.

Cheyenne Cochrane is changing the way that African American women view their natural hair. She started with herself by taking part in the “no heat challenge,” which is when a woman use no heating tools to manipulate their hair. Through this experience she has been able to embrace the different styles of her natural hair. In her TED Talk, she explores the underlying assumptions that society has about natural hair styles and those styles associated more frequently with the African American community such as Afro’s and Dreadlocks.

Sonia Sotomayor has journeyed from a Bronx housing project to become the first Hispanic and the third woman to serve as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Sotomayor had begun her college career like many other students, with a few bumps along the way. She reports receiving low-marks on assignments before seeking help. She became involved on campus with groups that would empower her racial identity as a Latina. Sotomayor now shares her journey with the country as a speaker and in her novel My Beloved World.

Nellie Wong confronts issues of racism, sexism, and labor issues through her poetry and community activism. Her poetry evokes feelings of internalized self-hatred and how this ultimately affects individuals. Her writings have empowered other Asian American women to express themselves through written word. Wong co-founded the writing collective Unbound Feet. Wong’s work includes Dreams in Harrison Railroad Park, The Death of Long Steam Lady, Stolen Moments, and Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. 

This blog wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging the cinematic marvel that is Black Panther, and more specifically the Dora Milaje. The Dora Milaje are a group of women who devote their lives to the kingdom of Wakanda and the throne. They are revered as the most highly trained warriors in the nation and serve their country to the fullest extent. Other powerful women in Black Panther are Princess Shuri, played by Letitia Wright, and Nakia, played by Lupita Nyong’o. Shuri serves the kingdom as the lead of the science and technology division and is depicted as one of the most brilliant minds in the world. Nakia, in contrast, is a spy for the country and seeks to address issues of social injustice. She is introduced to the movie by saving a group of women who had been abducted in Africa.

These are only a few of the amazing contributions that women of color continue to bring to society. To all of our amazing and powerful women out there, we thank you!

Women’s History Month 2018

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Feminism 101:

What is it?

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian author, provided that a feminist is “a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.” This definition, which was made famous in Beyonce’s single Flawless, was presented during Adichie’s 2012 TED Talk entitled We should all be feminists.

Where did this start?

An exact date for when the feminist movement began is still argued, but many feminist scholars agree that the movement began in the mid-1800’s. The history of feminism can be seen in three waves focusing on different areas of the feminine identity and oppression of women. For more detail about the three waves please click here.

Who is a feminist?

If you are a person who believes in the equality of men, women, and trans* folx, and can identify the inequalities within society then you are a feminist! A common misconception is that feminists are angry women. Although some people in this movement may have strong feelings of anger, not all feminists are angry.

Are there different types?

The different types of feminism come from the third wave of feminism mentioned earlier. These varying “types” differentiate activists by their passion and where they believe the most work needs to be done. Some examples of feminism are: liberal feminism, radical feminism, Marxist and Socialist feminism, cultural feminism, and eco-feminism.

What are major areas of activism?

  • Gender wage gap
  • Gendered behavior (i.e. men are assertive, but women are aggressive)
  • Reproductive health
  • Job/Career opportunities
  • Intersectional feminism and policy (Black Feminism, Latina Feminism, Lesbian Feminism, etc.)