Late Degradation

by MSC Student Life Intern, Lewis

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In February, Kanye West went on The Breakfast Club and publicly slut-shamed his former partner of almost 2 years, Amber Rose. Amber Rose was a stripper. His current partner and wife, Kim Kardashian, has been considered, by some, to be a porn actress. Kanye West has loved both of these women. And yet somehow Amber Rose is considered the dirty, shameless, jealous ex-partner, bent on destroying the happy family utopia that is the West’s. My point here is that though both women have well documented sexual pasts, only Rose is demonized for her sexuality. This has to do with (perceived) Blackness.

Rose, who self-identifies as biracial, does not benefit from the same white privilege that has kept Kim in the good graces of the public and the media (and Yeezy) despite a seemingly similar sexual history. Because of this white privilege, Kim is allowed to express her sexuality while Amber Rose is condemned for it, and now Ye has joined in on that condemnation.

Here’s an excerpt from the blog Beyond Black and White‘s post on Kanye’s interview,

Then he says this: “It’s very hard for a woman to want to be with someone who was with Amber Rose. She wasn’t sending nothing. I had to take 30 showers before I got with Kim. Don’t ask me no more [laughs] I just want to be respectful.” TRANSLATION: Amber is a “dirty” black(ish) broad who’s not virginal. Kim is a “dirty” white broad who’s not virginal. But we all know when black women aren’t virginal they’re THOTS…” 

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This is a surprising oversight from the same artist who spent the better half of the last decade preaching strong political messages in support of Black culture. The same artist who wrote songs like, “New Slaves” and “Golddigger.” The same artist who has repeatedly claimed he is stonewalled from the fashion industry because of his Blackness.


Honestly, what it sounded like to me is that Kanye’s personal insecurities began to poke through, and like so many men, he remedied this by bashing women. He was uncomfortable. He was uncomfortable being confronted about his once love for a woman that the media has so eagerly degraded, and thus outpoured a string of excuses straight from chapter 1 of “Sexism for Dummies (read: Insecure cis-gender men).” He was uncomfortable talking about his ex-partner’s sexuality. The same sexuality that he once found so attractive, he now sees as threatening. As a cis-gender man, I have been around these same conversations myself – i.e. Bob’s ex-girlfriend has hooked up with someone new and confronted with the news Bob responds by calling his ex-partner a slut, a whore, and essentially reducing any and all feelings they shared for each other to the uglier side of his own insecurities.

I am disappointed (but not surprised) in Kanye. I am disappointed in Kim for allowing her husband to publically slut-shame another woman. I am disappointed.

Do better, Yeezus.

The Benefits of Taking up a Leadership Position in a Student Org

by MSC Student Life intern, Maikoau


Many students walk into college not expecting to get involved in student organizations. Of those that do get involved, only few take up an executive board, or e-board, position within their org. Of course, with this responsibility comes dedication and time commitment but it is definitely worth it. Whether you are involved in a student organization or Greek organization, you can make a difference within your org and on campus just by contributing your time and dedication.

Here is a list of benefits from holding an E-board position within your organization.

  1. Sense of self/belonging

Being involved in an organization helps you find your place on campus. Because our campus is so huge, it is often difficult for students to find where they fit in. But as part of the e-board for an organization, you are able to find yourself as well as establish a purpose for yourself. A student organization provides you with a support system and a close bond with many others who may share the same aspirations as you.

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  1. Professionalism

In the real world, it is important to be professional. But let’s talk facts; no one is born with perfect professional skills. You gain them through experience and practice. Holding an e-board position in an organization is a way in which you are able to practice your professional skills and get critiques on how to improve. The more experience you have in a professional environment, the more skills you pick up along the way that will prepare you for post-college.

  1. The Power to Make Big Change

An e-board position allows you to bring awareness to what you want to see change in the community and on campus. As an e-board member, you are able to guide your organization in the direction that will promote its existence.

  1. Give Back to Your Campus

One major gain you get from being on the e-board is the opportunity to make an impact. Your group will be assisting you as you work towards your organization’s goals and take action. Leading your organization to making a change on campus will not only benefit the student body but your organization as well because the impact that you leave will be remembered. You will develop many followers who look up to you and be a leader.

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I personally, have benefitted so much from my involvement in student organizations I can speak for any of these five benefits. One of my current positions as Treasurer of the Multicultural Greek Council has allowed me to network and improve on my leadership skills. Although this does take up a lot of my time, I would not do anything differently. I was challenged to manage my time which has taught me to prioritize and work on my organization.


Getting involved in leadership positions within student organizations have many more benefits than just the ones I mentioned. You also enhance your communication skills along the way as well as being able to inspire other students. And if you are not involved in any student organizations, I highly suggest you start exploring. One way to start is checking out the Multicultural Student Center which houses many multicultural student organizations. Feel free to visit our website for more information on how to get involved and check out CFLI, the Center for Leadership and Involvement, or log into WIN, the Wisconsin Involvement Network, and search through the different student orgs on campus.

Cultural Appropriation, Appreciation and Exchange…What does it all mean?

by MSC Student Life Intern, Daisy

As a person of color and an aspiring fashion designer I get asked a lot about cultural appropriation in everyday life, Halloween, and in fashion. Cultural appropriation can be very confusing, especially when trying to distinguish it from cultural exchange and appreciation.

To start of lets define some terms:

As a Mexican American, I have seen people paint their faces as sugar skulls and wear sombreros and ponchos on Halloween while yelling out “I’m Illegal, deport me!” While these may be very obvious and blatantly racist and disrespectful forms of cultural appropriation, other forms of cultural appropriation are not as easy for people to identify and understand.

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Cultural appropriation is harmful because it perpetuates stereotypes, exercises modern day imperialism by treating other cultures as something that can be taken and commoditized, exotifies cultures, disrespects and steals from minority and marginalized groups.

A helpful way to look at this may be to call it social plagiarism. We all know that it is not okay to take something that is not yours when it comes to academia. Why should it be any different when it comes to cultures? It is important to do your research and credit where something comes from.

I often get questioned on why it is okay for people to wear French berets as a fashion statement and not a Native Headdress to a music festival or a Mexican sombrero to a drinking party. Or why is it okay for people of color to wear jeans and suits but not okay for people of privilege to sport box braids and “ghetto fab” clothing.

Cultural appropriation involves a dominant majority culture taking something from a marginalized group. This often has a double standard attached to it as well; for example how is it that when someone of privilege sports dreadlocks or gelled down baby hairs because they think it is cool are viewed as edgy and hip whereas someone part of the culture is be seen as “ghetto” or unprofessional.

It is also important to realize that in many cases of cultural appropriation all that is stolen is the pretty and aesthetically pleasing aspects of it. For example, when someone wears a geisha costume (like Katy Perry in her 2013 AMA performance) and uses it as a costume or prop, all cultural significance and meaning is stripped away. But it is so beautiful, what is wrong with appreciating its beauty and wanting to wear it? The problem here is that while Katy Perry may look beautiful, at the end of the day, she gets to take off the costume and does not have to deal with the stereotype and exoticism she just reinforced.

click the image to read more about Katy Perry’s culturally appropriative VMA’s performance.

A culture is not a prop, it is not something to be taken and altered for your pleasure, it is not something to wear for personal expression because you think it is cool, it is not a fashion statement.


For more literature on understanding cultural appropriation read this zine, Cultural Appreciation or Cultural Appropriation

Support Following the Death of Tony Robinson

Dear UW Madison students,
In light of the recent tragedy in Madison which took the life of Tony Robinson, the Multicultural Student Center (716 Langdon-Red Gym Second Floor) will offer the following resources this week.These MSC events will focus on discussing experiences of racism and violence in society and in Madison. Please join us in community to discuss recent incidents and to gain support:
Events this week:
  • Tuesday​, 6:30PM in the MSC Classroom “Be Wellness Series: Story Sharing for Healing Workshop​” – Transform your personal story into someone else’s source of healing. This workshop is designed to help you shape a personal challenge into one that moves others to action.
  • Wednesday, 12:00PM in the MSC Lounge “A Place at the Table” – Join us for good conversation and catered lunch with your community, open to all.
  • Thursday, 3:30PM in the MSC Classroom “Tips, Tools and Tactics for Shaping Narratives through Spoken-Word” an interactive writing workshop with activist & poet Guante.

For immediate support or for emergency contact University Health Services, Counseling and Consultation Services at 333 East Campus Mall, 7th floor between 9:00AM-4:00 PM, Monday through Friday or call the 24-hour UHS Crises Line at 608-265-5600, option 9.

If you would like to talk to individually to staff member about the recent tragedy in Madison, you can visit any of the staff members below during open office hours this week:
Joshua Moon Johnson, MSC-Red Gym 251
Tuesday 11:00 AM- 1:-00 PM
Wednesday 2:00-4:00 PM
Thursday 1:00-3:00PM​

Alice Traore, MSC-Redy Gym 252

Tuesday 2:00-4:00 PM
Wednesday 12:45-3:30 PM
Robert Brown, MSC-Red Gym 253
Tuesday 2:00-400PM
Wednesday 2:00-4:00 PM
Thursday 9:00-11:00 AM
Sasha Wijeyeratne, MSC-Red Gym207A
Tuesday 2:30-4:30 PM
Wednesday 10:30-1:30 PM
Thursday 12:30-5:30 PM
Vinika Porwal, Red Gym,-MSC 250C
Wednesday 1:00-3:00 PM
Thursday 1:00-3:00 PM
Chelsea O’Neil, MSC-Red Gym 207B
Tuesday 10:00-11:30 AM
Wednesday 1:00-5:00 PM
Thursday 1:00-4:00 PM
Sheltreese McCoy, Red Gym 1st floor, LGBTCC/MSC 2nd floor
Tuesday 1:00-5:00 PM
Wedneday 9:00 AM-5:00 PM
Thursday 9:00 AM-5:00 PM
Friday 9:00 AM-5:00 PM
Karla Foster, Bascom B26
Tuesday 2:00-4:00 PM
Wednesday 1:00-3:00 PM
Gabe Javier, Red Gym 1st floor, LGBT CC
Tuesday 9:00-11:30 AM
Wednesday 1:00-2:30 PM
Thursday 10:00 AM-3:00 PM
Katherine Charek Briggs, Red Gym 1st floor, LGBT CC
Wednesday 10:00-12:00 PM
Thursday 10:00-2:00 PM
José J. Madera, Bascom B47
Wednesday 2:00-5:00 PM
Thursday 12:00-4:00 PM

10 Ways the Multicultural Student Center Can Support Your Student Org

MSC Student Life Intern, Eric

Being part of a Student Organization can be one of the most meaningful experiences for students on campus. Student orgs are a wonderful place to make friends and professional connections. Whether you are a general member of a student org or serve in an administrative role chances are that you sometimes feel like you need a little extra help. Luckily, that’s where we can come in.

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Here are some ways the MSC can help your Student Org

Continue reading

#uwvoices #aboutraceuw #blacklivesmatter Workshop on Feb. 26th

Image via the Badger Herald

Image via the Badger Herald

As momentum builds across the country in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, we have seen an increase in student action and dialogue here in Madison. The Eric Garner verdict brought a vigil at the Kohl Center, hundreds of students marched to College Library in December and community members gathered in January with UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank to engage in dialogue. As more and more people find their place in the movement and wish to stand in solidarity, there are many asking what can I do or how can I do more?

The Multicultural Student Center social justice education team will host an interactive workshop on February 26th at 5:30 in the Multicultural Student Center to continue conversations around #blacklivesmatter, #aboutraceuw, and #uwvoices with an emphasis on strengthening the student movement for racial justice at UW Madison and continuing the momentum for taking action.

Participants will break into race-alike caucus groups to discuss how their personal identities impact their experience of the movement and will explore tactics for effectively standing in solidarity with other people fighting for racial justice. After the breakout sessions, participants will come back together for a group dialogue and an opportunity to make community commitments.

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This event will be co-facilitated by the professional social justice educators on staff at the Multicultural Student Center. Their team collectively holds a wealth of knowledge on community organizing, allyship development across race, and social justice principles that they will share in an effort to raise up student efforts and strengthen student’s capacity to make a strong impact on the UW-Madison community.

The event will be a chance for students to strategize with their peers and connect with their supporters and allies. All are welcome. Please contact MSC Associate Director Alice Traore at alice.traore@wisc.edu or 608-265-2513 for more information or to request accommodations. Click here for more information.

Black Girls in Education

MSC Student Life Intern, Cheyenne

From the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative to increased discourse about the criminalization of Black boys it is safe to say that conversations about African-American males in the school system have been abundantly abuzz. However, the unique challenges that Black girls face in America’s school system are often subsumed by those of their male counterparts, leaving their needs unattended to. Although it is assumed that girls generally fare better than boys in school, much of the data that supports this fact fails to dis-aggregate data by race, which would reveal that African-American females are actually doing worse than the national average for girls on almost every scale of scholastic achievement.


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In response to the persistent underachievement of African-American girls, groups such as the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, the National Women’s Law Center, and the African-American Policy Forum have released reports that comprehensively demonstrate how the gendered racism, combined with poor school resources cause Black girls to experience higher disciplinary, suspension and expulsion rates than any of their other female counterparts. The release of such data has shed light on how America’s educational system has historically underserved Black girls and has emphasized the importance of policymakers, educators, and school administrators paying attention to girls of color.


Stereotypes and Discipline

Similar to Black boys, Black girls have also suffered the burden of negative stereotypes that cast them as aggressive, angry, promiscuous, and hyper-sexualized. Despite statistics that show that African-American girls tend to have higher self-esteems than their White counterparts, the racialized and gendered perceptions that their teachers may use to analyze and understand their behavior in the classroom can negatively impact their educational experiences and cause them to feel less committed to continuing their academic journeys in the future. Oftentimes disciplined for behavior that does not conform to white middle-class norms of femininity, the dispositions and attitudes of Black girls that may demonstrate academic engagement and excitement are instead coded as “disruptive” behavior, thus showing how the educational potential of Black girls is often limited due to their failure to conform to the norms of the dominant culture. Thus, Black girls face a “Catch 22” situation in which in they are either unnecessarily disciplined for being “too assertive” or forced to conform to Eurocentric standards of girlhood that encourage passivity and quietness and therefore deprive themselves of educational opportunities.

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Black Girls and Leadership

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Despite the fact Black girls are more likely to consider themselves leaders, express a desire to be leaders, and already have leadership experience in comparison to their White counterparts, America’s public school system seems to present scarce opportunities for Black girls to hone their leadership skills, with only 12% of 12th grade African-American girls reporting “considerable” or “significant” participation in student government according to the report created by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and National Women’s Law Center.

Although Black women and girls have been on the forefront of movements to fight against racial inequality in public schools, organizations and initiatives designed to foster the leadership and self-confidence of Black girls are scarce in America’s public schools and may further reinforce the academic struggles of African-American girls along with long-held stereotypes.

Black Girls and Educational Disparity

Untitled1 Despite the groundbreaking ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education that deemed the “separate but equal” doctrine unconstitutional in the racial segregation of schools, African-American students are still enrolled in schools lacking adequate resources, qualified teachers, college-prep classes, and diverse extra-curricular activities at higher rates then their white counterparts. Data shows that the access and retainment of these resources are key to student success and although statistics on the impact of school disparities on students is not dis-aggregated by gender, school resources (or the lack of) serves as an important factor in considering the status of Black girls in education. In comparison to their peers from other racial and ethic groups, both African-American boys and girls are more likely to attend racially-isolated, high-poverty schools which are socioeconomically isolated and have a lower proportion of highly-qualified teachers. These disparities begin as early as pre-school, thus showing how the academic inequalities Black students face to be cumulative.


Although Black students may share some similar challenges in education, recent data and statistics clearly demonstrate that African-American females face very unique situations in public schools distinctly separate from their male counterparts. If policymakers and educators are serious about increasing the academic achievement of Black students, they must be willing to challenge and take into account societal norms that marginalize the life opportunities of Black females in order to truly increase the effectiveness of public school education.