Diversity, Heritage Month, Uncategorized

Native American Heritage Month – Thanksgiving Day

We’re often told that Christopher Columbus “discovered” America. What we’re not told is that he was responsible for the colonization of First Nations people, initiation of the transatlantic slave trade, and death of millions by murder and diseases. Many of his actions have lasting affects still apparent today. The U.S. Census stated that in 2014 the median income for American Indian and Alaska Native households was $37,227 compared to $53,657 for the nation as a whole. The Native population also lack educational resources and opportunities. Only 18.5% of American Indians and Alaska Natives 25 years and older obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 30.1% of the overall population (Census Bureau, 2015). In 1992, Berkley, California, was the first city to declare what was once Columbus Day, Indigenous People’s Day. So far 55 cities have joined the movement and replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day/Native Americans Day, or recognize both. Minneapolis began recognizing Indigenous People’s day in 2014 and St. Paul followed in suit in 2015.

Thanksgiving is an American celebration in giving thanks and sharing a meal with family and friends. The idea of Thanksgiving of Pilgrims and Native Americans sitting at a table sharing meal and giving thanks, has been a story told to us for many years. In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations. When the Pilgrims came to Plymouth Rock, they were poor and hungry — half of them died within a few months from disease and hunger. When Squanto, a Wampanoag man, found them, they were in a pitiful state. He spoke English, having traveled to Europe, and took pity on them. Their English crops had failed. The native people fed them through the winter and taught them how to grow their food (Pacific News Services, 1999). The idea that the first Thanksgiving was some kind of cross-cultural love between two groups, as it has been represented, is also doubtful by historians, who say that the settlers and the Indians were brought together less by friendship than by the extreme of their common need. George Washington made his Thanksgiving Day Proclamation in 1789. In truth, our first president’s aim was not to rejoice, but pay acknowledgement of the survival of an imperiled nation (Huffington Post, 2011).

In the Native’s version of Thanksgiving, it is a beginning of the end. For the First Nation’s, Thanksgiving is seen as a time in remembering their ancestors, and of mourning for the lives that were lost. In fact, the end times began for Massachusetts Indians several years earlier, when British slaving crews unintentionally introduced smallpox killing over ninety percent of the local population, who lacked antibodies to fight the disease. (Huffington Post, 2011). So in this opportunity on Thanksgiving, it is a chance to give gratitude for this day, as well as reflecting. It is important to continue to educate ourselves on our history, and bring an accurate representation of Native American history into mainstream American culture. As these stories and history creates big impacts to us today, and challenges that the Native American communities faces still today.

Resources

http://www.history.com/topics/exploration/columbus-day

http://time.com/4968067/indigenous-peoples-day-columbus-day-cities/

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/columbus-day-2017-when-is-it-date-holiday-meaning-why-veterans-us-cale-a7983641.html

https://www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2015/cb15-ff22.html

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-schiffman/the-thanksgiving-truth_b_1105181.html

https://www.alternet.org/story/4391/thanksgiving:_a_native_american_view

Diversity

Costume or Cultural Appropriation

Costume or Cultural Appropriation – By Amaris Holguin

The leaves are falling, the temperature is dropping, and Halloween is just around the corner. Many would argue that Halloween is the day of the year where you can be whoever, or whatever you want. However, it’s important to know the distinction between what is funny and what is cultural appropriation.

Cultural appropriation is defined as “the act of taking intellectual and cultural expressions from a culture that is not your own, without showing that you understand or respect the culture.” This can be as simple as wearing a Dashiki without knowledge or respect to West African culture, and as serious as wearing a fake Native American headdress without any regard of its sacredness. It generally incorporates a history of prejudice and discrimination by perpetuating long-standing stereotypes.

On the other hand, cultural appreciation, understanding the significance of a particular practice/object/tradition and not undermining or destroying its significance or value, and cultural exchange are important aspects of living in a diverse world. For instance, at an Indian wedding someone may be asked to wear a Sari, a traditional female garment. This would be considered cultural appreciation. They are asked to participate in the culture by wearing traditional attire  and showing respect for that culture.

If you are second-guessing that your costume may be cultural appropriation consider these questions:

Does my costume…

  • Represent a culture that is not my own?
  • Include the words “traditional,” “ethnic,” “cultural,” or “tribal?”
  • Perpetuate stereotypes, or historical and cultural inaccuracies?

If you said yes to any of the questions above or are still unsure, you may want to go with a different costume.

For more information on cultural appropriation, check out the following resources:

http://www.refinery29.com/2015/10/95646/halloween-cultural-appropriation

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXejDhRGOuI

*

While the University of St. Thomas doesn’t have an official policy about Halloween costumes, the above information is offered to help students make informed choices.  Our convictions as a University call on us to respect the dignity of all human persons and we strive to create a community that is welcoming to all.  Educating students about how their actions could be perceived by others is part of how we create that community.”

 

Heritage Month

UST to Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month Fall 2017

From September 15th to October 15th, University of St. Thomas will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with a variety of activities that incorporates art, history, and cultures. The day of September 15th is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. As well as Mexico and Chile celebrate theirs on September 16th and 18th.

Please join the Student Diversity and Inclusion Services office in celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. Events will take place throughout the month of September and October and we encourage you and your students to attend.

We will have Purple Couch in SDIS on Fridays from 3-4pm. Purple Couch will be at the ASC MakerSpace on September 29th, 3pm – 4pm for Latin Arts and Crafts. There will be music, art, and craft such as Papel Picado. A special menu at T’s will be featured September 25-29th and a display with featured works in the OSF Library September 15th – October 15th.

On Wednesday, September 13th, at 6:00 pm in ASC Scooters come join DAB & HOLA for Loteria – Mexican Bingo. Loteria, often referred as Mexican bingo is a visually and engaging game in which instead of numbers and letters it uses short poems/Spanish phrases.

Come out to Culture Stew on Monday, September 18th, 5:30pm in ASC Dorsey Commons and have a meal with us and with the Director of Latino Affairs from Minnesota State University – Mankato, Jessie Mancilla. Latinidad is vibrant in Minnesota. Let’s unpack the truth of the educational, economical, and social Latinx stereotypes through national and state statistics, scholarly articles, and theories and absent narratives. Learn ways to navigate and continue the conversation to educate our campuses, our greater community and support our Latinx population during the Trump era.

We continue with our And Still We Rise series in partnership with the Luann Dummer Center for Women (LDCW). This month it is led by Ruby Murillo, Director of Latinx Center at Augsburg University. Wednesday, September 20th at 5:30 pm in the LDCW (OEC 103).  As a Mexican American woman and first generation college graduate, Ruby’s commitment to serving the Latinx community stems from personal experiences and the stories that other Latinx students have shared with her. Ruby will talk about those students who graduate and will share empirical data that shows how those students were driven to succeed. Ruby will also shed light on her personal experiences as a young woman of color navigating spaces in the professional field of Student Affairs and within her own community.

One of the most influential labor activist Dolores Huerta co-founded the United Farm Workers Association. Come join DAB’s event Non Violence Activism – Dolores Huertas on September 25th, 5pm in ASC 340 Hearth Room to learn and engage with us as we talk about the Chicano civil rights movement. There will also be an opportunity for students to go see the movie “Dolores” at The Lagoon on Tuesday, October 3rd!

For our first Movies that Matter this fall, which is on Tuesday September 26th, 2017 5:30pm in ASC Woulfe South, join us as we watch “Made in LA”. Made in L.A. is an Emmy award-winning feature documentary that follows the remarkable story of three Latina immigrants working in Los Angeles garment sweatshops as they embark on a three-year odyssey to win basic labor protections from trendy clothing retailer Forever 21. Popcorn and refreshments will be served!

Witness for Peace – Midwest will be hosting Carol Rojas on Tuesday, October 10th from 12pm at McNeely Hall Room 100. Carol Rojas is from the Feminist Antimilitarist Network. Carol will present on popular education and intersectional organizing in a dynamic of escalating post-accords Colombia.

We hope you can join us for these fantastic events! For more information visit our SDIS website https://www.stthomas.edu/studentdiversity/ or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/UofStThomasSDIS/

 

J-Term Book Club

J Term Book Club 2018

January Term Book Club 2018 Presents:

By Lauret Savoy

Sand and stone are Earth’s fragmented memory. Each of us, too, is a landscape inscribed by memory and loss. One life-defining lesson Lauret Savoy learned as a young girl was this: the American land did not hate. As an educator and Earth historian, she has tracked the continent’s past from the relics of deep time; but the paths of ancestors toward her—paths of free and enslaved Africans, colonists from Europe, and peoples indigenous to this land—lie largely eroded and lost.

In this provocative mosaic of personal journeys and historical inquiry across a continent and time, Lauret Savoy explores how the country’s still unfolding history, and ideas of “race,” have marked her and the land. From twisted terrain within the San Andreas Fault zone to a South Carolina plantation, from national parks to burial grounds, from “Indian Territory” and the U.S.-Mexico Border to the U.S. capital, Trace grapples with a searing national history to reveal the often unvoiced presence of the past.

-lauretsavoy.com

2016 American Book Award  from Before Columbus Foundation.  

Finalist for the PEN American Open Book Award and Phillis Wheatley Book

Trace invites you to reflect on how places are created, and foster a variety of perspectives that recognizes lasting injustices of our society. As well as realizing the contexts of racism on the American land in a narrative that impacts us deeply.

SDIS will be hosting weekly book discussion events in January 2018. Come join us on this journey. Sign up for the J-Term Book Club this coming up Fall. Questions/Interests contact Dia Yang, SDIS Education Program Director, dyang@stthomas.edu.

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Welcome Students – Orientation and Registration!

Understanding Your Story – First Year Student Presentations (Dia Yang)

Summer is coming to an end very soon, and UST is gearing up for orientations for new Tommies the next few weeks. Orientation for new students is a pivotal point in which students learn about what classes they will be taking, who their advisors are, where they will be living, and other viable student services. One of biggest questions every student explores throughout their time in college is “Who am I?” The first year becomes an exploration of trying to identify their passion, their personal identities, their purpose, and understanding the new people, information, and challenges they will encounter.

SDIS will be hosting a presentation for first year students called “Understanding Your Story”, giving students a glimpse of things they may encounter within their first year of college. This presentation will focus on the single story concept – the single story students learned in their 18 years of education, and the danger of one story. First year students will watch a snippet of Chimamanda Adichie’s TED Talk “Danger of a Single Story”, in which speaks of understanding stories by shifting your paradigm to another narrative. During the presentation students will be able to discuss single stories they know and how this can impact their perception of the world. Students will also be able to identify the complexities of their identities and understand the multiple stories that they can expect to encounter during their time here at UST.

The University of St. Thomas mission speaks of advancing the common good, and this is only possible when the individual feels they are a part of their community, interacting with – and growing within – that community. The presentation will conclude that as first year students begin to understand their stories within UST, in combination with the things they learn in college, they will grow into being who they are and embracing the diversity around them academically and socially. This transformation is a vital and continual process and cannot be feared, as this growth is needed in order to adapt to the changing world.

Uncategorized

2017 Celebrating Black History Month by Guest Blogger Mosope Ani

Student Diversity and Inclusion Services is happy to share Mosope Ani’s perspective on the celebration of Black History Month

In the month of February, we celebrate Black History Month form February 1st – February 28th. The month-long celebration honors influential African Americans and recognizes the important role that African Americans have played in U.S. history.
Black History Month was originally known as Negro History Week. It started in 1926 and was meant to celebrate of black Americans while also bringing awareness to black identities. Carter G. Woodson started Negro History Week along with other prominent African Americans. This recognition was a result of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), which was founded by Carter G. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland. Woodson was unhappy about the underrepresentation of African Americans in American history, and this led to the birth of the association. The organization was established for the promotion of African American history and describes its purpose to, “research, preserve, interpret, and disseminate information about Black life, history and culture to the global community.” ASNLH is dedicated to the celebration of past and present African Americans while also telling their story. Negro History week was held on the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass.
The event inspired many schools and organizations to host their own celebrations, and in the decades that followed, mayors of many cities began issuing yearly proclamations recognizing Negro History Week. Negro History Week eventually became Black History Month when it was officially recognized by President Gerald R. Ford in 1976. This recognition was, as President Ford said, “the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Over the month of February, many events are held that highlight various aspects of black culture. Some of these events include spoken word performances, musical performances of various genres, influential films, museum showcases and panel discussions.
At the University of St. Thomas, SDIS, BESA and DAB have put together a series of events this month that give insight to the rich culture of African Americans. There will be a poetry slam, panel discussions and a Black History Month Dinner. These events are cosponsored by various groups on campus such as the Luann Dummer Center for Women, the English Department, and the Office of Mission. We urge you to attend some of the many events being held. Also, be sure to stop by the O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library to see the display with featured works, and visit T’s for a special menu from February 20-24.
This is a time to reflect on the contributions of African Americans to our everyday lives, and it is also a time to be aware of the issues that affect many African Americans today.
Happy Black History month! We hope you all get to experience and learn something new this month.
A detailed list of events can be found here

J-Term Book Club

The Distance Between Us: A Memoir by Reyna Grande 2017 J-Term Book Club selection.

reynaStudent Diversity and Inclusion Services has chosen The Distance Between Us: A Memoir by Reyna Grande as its 2017 J-Term Book Club selection. The Distance Between Us brings home the extreme risks and impossible choices those fleeing poverty and danger in Mexico are forced to accept – family separation, harrowing border crossings, perpetual fear of deportation – in hope of finding a better life, and reunification, in the United States.
The Distance Between Us: A Memoir is a compelling coming of age story about a young Mexican girl whose family decides to search for a better life and a more secure future beyond the bounds of the poor rural community they call home. The author helps us understand that when given bad choices by the circumstances of life, we make decisions and then must live with the consequences no matter how unexpected they might be.
Copies of The Distance Between Us will be distributed to all students who are J Term Book club participants.
Discussions will take Thursdays during the noon hour during the month of January. A visit by the author to campus on March 1st 10 will include a presentation open to the public. Details of the event will be made available, as the date approaches, on the SDIS website.
We believe The Distance Between Us will engage students and spur conversation campus-wide on a timely topic – immigration.

 

Learn more about Reyna Grande

Uncategorized

Pride Week kicks off October 10th

pride-week-2016The weeklong celebration is hosted by SDIS, OutLaw! QSA, and DAB. It’s a collaborative effort to affirm the LGBT+ community by providing recreational, social and support services, and learning opportunities to continue fostering a positive campus climate.
Pride Week is a celebration of identity and expression. Many individuals come to campus without a lot exposure to the LGBT+ community. Pride Week is a platform to engage that learning opportunity and, overall, celebrate diversity.
University campuses vary widely in whether, how, and when they organize LGBT Pride observances. At St. Thomas, Pride Week takes place in the Fall. Our activities include speakers, panel discussions, movies, and a celebratory dance.
Throughout the week, there will be a large number of opportunities for students to get involved, this is the link to events.

Diversity, Heritage Month, Uncategorized

St. Thomas Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

hispanic-2016Hispanic Heritage Month is upon us; the celebration begins on September 15 and is set to continue for a full month until October 15. The purpose of the celebratory month is to recognize the contributions and vital presence of both Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and to observe their native heritage and contributing culture. The history of Hispanic Heritage Month has deep roots in the United States, the month long observation began in 1968, and always begins in the fall of each year. Originally the celebration was not a month long; in fact it was only a week. President Lyndon Johnson first approved Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968, and was expanded to a full month by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. Finally, Hispanic Heritage Month was officially enacted into law on August 17 of that year.

September 15 was not a date chosen at random; in fact the date contains a large amount of significance for multiple Hispanic nations. According to USA.gov, the date is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. They all declared independence in 1821. In addition, Mexico, Chile and Belize celebrate their independence days on September 16, September 18, and September 21, respectively. Hispanic Heritage Month was enacted to celebrate the fundamental contributions Hispanics have made to the growth, vitality and culture of North America.

This year at St. Thomas we once again celebrate and provide opportunities for the community to engage in the month-long celebration, details are available on our website.

As a Latina I fully embrace the necessity of this month. Hispanic Heritage Month is the month I remind you and myself that “mi gente” are powerful and resilient. Hispanic Heritage Month is the month I get to celebrate all of our accomplishments. This is the one-month out of the year where I get to remind you, boldly, that we matter and that we extend a “bienvenida” to you as you help us celebrate. Hispanic Heritage Month is not about one community but rather is it about realizing and accepting how vast and complex our varied cultures are within the Latinx narrative. Latino/Hispanic Heritage Month gives us a chance to celebrate what each of our cultures bring to the St. Thomas community. I encourage all students, faculty, staff and the greater campus community to join us in celebrating  ‘la cultura Latina’ through all the events and programs on campus. We are very excited for this year’s events!

Uncategorized

“You Spoke, We Listened”

ncoreThis summer, the news has been filled with examples of many of the uncertainties and problems that plague our world today. What is the message of Black Lives Matter? How do we uproot the racism embedded in our justice system? What does immigration reform mean? Is anonymous speech good for society; is it destructive?

In order to engage students on some of these issues, SDIS provided an opportunity for all incoming first year students to share the causes they are willing to SPEAK UP about. Incoming first-year students watched “The Danger of Silence”, a TED Talk video by Clint Smith, during a breakout session at Orientation and Registration led by SDIS. After viewing the video, students had an opportunity to send an anonymous text message to a digital bulletin board, where they named a cause that they are passionate about. After meeting with 36 different groups of students over nine Orientation days, we saw that the following topics were the most oft-submitted as ones that the students want to speak up about.

1. Immigration
2. Black Lives Matter/Police Brutality
3. LGBTQ rights
4. Women’s rights
5. Islamophobia/Religious freedom

To respond to and generate discussion around events that matter to our students, SDIS will using these themes to help us frame our conversations during our weekly Purple Bench discussions on Friday afternoons. Purple Bench discussions are designed to encourage participants to step outside of their comfort zones, offer their opinions on challenging topics, and to not shy away from asking questions. No reading or research is required in advance at Purple Bench; it is a forum where people can talk about issues they care about, and a space where one need not be an expert in order to participate. We believe it is important to cultivate conversations on important issues that challenge us, so that we can learn from one another and become more familiar with having constructive dialogue with people who may hold and express different points of view.

During our annual Welcome Back to Campus social (September 9th 1-4 p.m.) we will provide an opportunity for the campus community to suggest other important issues we should be talking about during the upcoming school year. We really want an opportunity for faculty, staff and students to interact on the important social issues of our time, and we will continue to listen to our students and shape our weekly discussions to address the issues that matter to them.