Job Board: December 14, 2013

Student Service Coordinator, Assistant Director at Multicultural Student Center

Application Due: January 24, 2013

Job Description: Must be committed to social justice and work in collaboration with students and staff in the development of a more inclusive environment. Managing and supervising MSC Leadership and Involvement Staff. Collaborating with related outreach programs. Other duties to be performed when assigned.

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Job Board: December 6th, 2013

Student Service Coordinator, Assistant Director at Multicultural Student Center

Application Due: January 24, 2013

Job Description: Must be committed to social justice and work in collaboration with students and staff in the development of a more inclusive environment. Managing and supervising MSC Leadership and Involvement Staff. Collaborating with related outreach programs. Other duties to be performed when assigned.

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“Three white college students file racial discrimination complaint against professor over lesson on structural racism”

Video

“English faculty Shannon Gibney received a letter of reprimand last weekend after a debate about structural racism in her Intro to Mass Communications class became too heated. This is the latest development in a string of incidences on campus regarding race, education and community effecting the student body. We talked with Gibney about the incident, and spoke with the new Executive Director of Diversity, Dr. Whitney Harris on his perception of MCTC’s cultural climate.”

Click here to read the full story.

More Than “Just Hair:” Getting at the Root of Black Hair Politics

by: MSC Communications Intern, Hiwot Adilow

There are a quite a few reasons why the phrase “it’s just hair” doesn’t really apply to Black hair. There’s literature and research surrounding the politics of Black hair. The mere necessity of the phrase “Black Hair politics” insinuates the matter’s weight in society and how it often impacts the way Black people are seen while moving through the world.

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Nivea ad implying afro-haired Black man was “uncivilized.” Ad was later pulled.

When considering matters surrounding my own hair story–I’m most known for rockin’ an afro–I worry I may be being too sensitive. Why be upset by a person’s intrigue? I’ve had people politely ask to touch my hair. I’ve also had awkward requests. I’ve had non-consensual afro groping, and I’ve had things put in my hair by foolish classmates. Needless to say, my defensiveness regarding my hair stems from a defensiveness of myself. Just like I would not want a stranger to grab at and caress my arm, just as that scenario conjures discomfort, the sensation of an unknown hand playing in my hair is frightening (on a good day it’s “just” uncomfortable.) At that point it is too late to say “yes” or “no.” The number of times I’ve dealt with this and the various reactions I’ve had can’t be counted. My hair is an extension of me and I treat it with that regard and love. Having my hair touched is also something that is intimate, private, something left to only the most trusted of hairdressers. It is exclusive to my family and friends. When a stranger asks to touch my hair (before asking my name) I feel as if they’re asking permission for a closeness they have not earned.

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art by Tabitha Bianca Brown of coverthatmother.blogspot.com (click photo for link)

In NYC, there was an exhibit where natural haired Black women carried signs saying, “You Can Touch My Hair,” giving passersby permission to endulge their curiosities. A couple days later, women in opposition to the exhibit came with their own signs. The one that stuck out to me the most was one reading, “I am not your Sarah Baartman.” Saarjite “Sarah” Baartman was a South African woman kidnapped to Europe in the 1800s and put on exhibit for her “intriguing,” “grotesque,” and “exotic” features. After her death her remnants were kept in Europe on display. Her story is one of the many examples of Black women’s bodies being on display and for consumption.

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It’s dismissive to say that “it’s just hair” when talking about the micro-aggressions surrounding our natural hair but in a lot of ways “it’s just hair” can also be very appropriate. Often, our hair choices are made into political statements; I am considered inherently Revolutionary and Radical because of my fro. And when I opt for a straight hairstyle I’m met with people’s “reassurance.” It’s their assumption that a straight hairstyle means anything other than “Oh, that’s a cute hairstyle I want to try out.” It’s important to note that the acceptance of natural hair should not be the vilification of straightened hairErykah Badu said it best, “I’d rather see a person with a natural mind and processed head, than a  processed mind and natural head.”

I quickly shake off this notion that I am being overly critical when I think of the history and read about young girls today being told their hair is “faddish” or “unacceptable.” Young, Black girls being threatened with expulsion for being bullied about their “distracting” afro styles is an unfortunate reality. These are only a few of the reasons why Black hair is so significant to me, why it is a  BIG deal when people touch my hair, or use certain triggering words to describe it but for all the ill feelings that surround the topic, there is a lot of empowerment and love.

 

APIA-U Leadership Summit a Success!

This blog post is submitted by the Asian American Student Union (AASU). Our goal for this event was to educate the Asian American community at UW about social justice issues at the local and national level and to learn how to be leaders of our communities through leadership and advocacy skills.  

After Asian Pacific American Council (APAC)—the group funding AASU—was defunded by the University, AASU struggled to stay active, especially in terms of membership. AASU had only regained its’ strength again within recent years. On a large campus like UW-Madison, it is easy for Asian American students to get mixed into the international student population. Additionally, the predominantly White campus may engulf the Asian American community and so much of the community becomes invisible. AASU’s goal is to bring together an Asian America where students can become educated and aware about social justice issues within the community. Also, the group builds a community through social events and collaboration. Asian & Pacific Islander American University (APIA-U) Leadership Training allowed AASU to become leaders and advocates for their community through team building strategies.

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Students gathered at the AASU event.

The event took plance on Saturday November 16, 2013 from 8:30am-5:00pm in Ingraham Hall, Room 206. It was sponsored by State Farm Insurance and Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA) and Asian American Student Union (AASU) for UW undergraduate and graduate students.

APIA-U Leadership Training, sponsored by State Farm Insurance, began with breakfast and registration at 8:30am. After a get-to-know you ice breaker game, OCA facilitators, Mary Dynne and Suresh, directed student’s attention to a historical Asian American timeline dating back to 1790. The goal of the activity was for students to identify prominent historical events and discuss the importance of remembering the Asian American history. During reflection, one student found the activity to be upsetting because of the number of devastating events, like the murder of Vincent Chin. But another student described the activity as “hopeful” indicating that a handful of Asian American individuals were beginning to create visibility for the community, such as the first Hmong American woman senator, Minnesota State Senator Mee Moua.

The group watched a documentary titled, “Vincent Who,” where Vincent Chin was murdered by two White individuals who were angry and convinced that he was a “Jap” and “stealing their jobs.” Students reflected on Vincent Chin’s death as a prime era of Asian American movement for justice and equality during a time of harsh racism and discrimination against Asian Americans in the U.S. The film was followed by lunch facilitated by State Farm who presented about post-grad insurance planning opportunities.

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Students participates in many group activities during the retreat.

The afternoon consisted of a Leadership Animals activity where students were separated into Lions, Eagles, Turtles, and Rabbits according to their leadership quality traits. The goal was for each animal to sell a car to another animal based on the leadership qualities. In the end, students learned that each animal conveyed different leadership characteristics and a variety of qualities—or leadership animals—are needed in order to achieve the best outcome. The afternoon ended with an advocacy activity where groups analyzed case studies based on true events. The goal was to identify the issue and create an action plan for improvement.

The training closed with each trainee sharing a take-away and a commitment they will keep. The exciting and educational training was a great opportunity that challenged AASU to be strong leaders and advocates for the concerns they are most passionate about. The training was also a refreshing reminder of a strong Asian America on campus who is committed to addressing social justice issues in their community and who will no longer be invisible in a White dominated society.