My name is Ananya Ghemawat, and I am serving as your Multicultural Affairs Coordinator for the 2015-2016 academic year. I’m so excited to be writing this inaugural Multicultural Column, and I am very happy that the voices of students of color will be amplified through this column.
It’s important that we center and amplify the voices of students of color in all spaces and platforms, ranging from this column to everyday conversations with our peers. To that end, this column will be written by different students on a rotating basis so as to have diverse and varied perspectives represented each week. The inclusion and amplification of the voices of individuals from marginalized communities continues to be important today, and I hope that all students on campus will read this column, because these issues and events are relevant for all of us.
The first few weeks of second semester have been very busy with a variety of events. On February 3rd, myself and Ethos welcomed Mia McKenzie to campus. Ms. McKenzie is a writer, a queer feminist and an activist. She created Black Girl Dangerous Media, an independent media company that centers the experiences of queer and trans people of color.
Her Q&A session with members of the Wellesley College community was very compelling and she spoke on topics ranging from mental health to the emotional labor of activism. She articulated how social media has influenced and defined approaches to social justice movements. McKenzie also remarked on the importance of taking care of our own communities and spoke about how she envisioned real solidarity to look like within different groups, as opposed to “ally theatre,” a concept she has written about in the past.
There are several additional events coming up in the semester. This month is Black History Month, and Harambee House has organized events from “The Art of African Head Wrapping” to the keynote lecture titled “Are Black Cultural Centers Hallowed Ground?: Grappling with the Politics of ‘Relevance’ in a Post-Racial World” with Dr. Lori Patton Davis. The full list of events can be found on Harambee House’s Facebook page and in school-wide emails.
Along with Black History Month, this month will bring Chinese New Year celebrations, Yuki Matsuri (a Japanese festival of snow) and other diverse cultural events.
I urge all students to take the time in the next few weeks to attend these celebrations of our diverse heritages and cultures! This is a great way to learn about the multitude of communities that exist on campus and to join your siblings in celebrating our shared multiculturalism. It is important that we come together in moments of celebration, as well as in moments of crisis.
Additionally, as we move forward in the semester, we will be moving forward in our planning of the usability of Acorn, the new multicultural space on campus. In the next few weeks, the Office of Intercultural Education advisors will be meeting with students in order to learn about what students would like to see in this new space and to get recommendations as to how we can best use this space collectively. Following those meetings, I will organize meetings with students regarding the day-to-day usage of the space, including the programming of events. If you are interested in having your voice heard in these conversations, please feel free to reach out to me, and I will be more than happy to grab a meal with you to hear your thoughts.
In light of the recent Islamophobic acts on campus, I would like to remind everyone that these acts are not aligned with the values of our community, and hate speech will not be tolerated. Please come to the Multifaith Center at 12:30 PM on Wednesday, February 17th to have a dialogue with other members of the Wellesley community about this incident. If you have any questions or concerns about this incident, please feel free to reach out to me.
I wish everyone a warm and safe week. Take care of yourselves, and take care of each other.