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
December 5, 2011
I make an effort to visit my family in CT at least one weekend a month, in order to be nice to my wallet and my car. However, one weekend a month never seems to be enough. On my 3 hour ride after work on Fridays, I find myself making a mental note of my itinerary for the weekend. The list includes, running errands with my mom, visiting aunts and uncles, visiting my pastor, making every effort to go to church, trying to connect with friends and the list goes on.
But this past weekend, it was different. I was going home to see my uncle who had been in the hospital for the last week. After calling home every day this week to receive a progress report, I was finally going to see him.
In the hospital, his room seemed to have an invisible revolving door. As two people would leave, immediately two other people would enter. You see, my family is a big family and once people heard the news they all came to visit him. My uncles bed was located to the far right meaning we would have to pass his roommates bed before we reached his.
I am not a fan of going to hospitals, but then again, who is? I find that every time I go to the hospital, I am somewhat zoned out. I keep to myself, really don’t engage with others and remain quiet. I find myself constantly praying. I pray for the person I am visiting but I also pray for everyone who finds themselves in the hospital. In the midst of my prayers I saw my uncles roommate.
As much as I tell our students to take a chance and spark a conversation with someone you don’t know, I still have to push myself to do the same.
Throughout the day I realized that no one came to visit him. His phone remained there, unanswered because no one called. I tried to think of what he was feeling as he saw a train of people storming in his room. I stepped aside knowing that my uncle had more than enough people to talk to and began to talk to this man. His name was Ben. I was nervous, unsure of what to ask. So I started with the obvious question, why was he in the hospital. Our conversation soon extended to talking about family, interests, and life dreams. He was a very pleasant man to talk to and through our conversation we found that we both shared a strong faith in God. He was very happy to be able to share stories of how God had blessed him and manifested Himself in his life. I was grateful to see his faith in action. He inspired me.
As we exchanged our goodbyes he thanked me repeatedly for taking the time to talk to him. He shared that his wife was working two jobs and could not visit him, and that this was the first time someone had taken the time to have a conversation with him since he was in hospital. As we ended our conversation with a small prayer, I stepped out of the room. As I reflected on the amazing conversation we had I could not help but think about how many people we walk by each day and never stop to talk to. In the midst of our daily itineraries, we never make the time to smile at someone, say a simple hello, or engage in a conversation.
In our office we talk about the importance of creating personal connections. Of putting the person before the issue, and learning from each other through dialogue. I see how much I have learned from students, staff and faculty through personal conversations. I become a better listener from these conversations. I become aware of different experiences that impact us all as individuals. I become self aware of areas I need to learn more about. All because I take a chance and spark a conversation.
That day Ben thanked me, but I should have been the one thanking him. He may never know what impact he had on me and what he taught me that day. He taught me that it is important to stop and enjoy the simple things in life. He taught me the value in taking a chance.
Posted by Intercultural Affairs at Stonehill College at 5:51 PM