Category Archives: Uncategorized

Summer of Service

blogpostThe semester is coming to a close and my exploration of diversity and student activism at Purdue will be put on hold for the summertime. I want to thank those of you who are religious readers of A Seat At the Table for spending the semester learning and growing with me through these regular posts.

There are many things we were able to cover looking back but I know there is still a whole host of topic yet to be uncovered. I hope you were able to expand you thinking and understanding of race and justice as well as to get involved around Purdue.

The active students on campus who inspired me to start this blog are all dedicated to important issues that need to be addressed and I encourage everyone to reach out to groups on campus and in the community dedicated to seeking liberation and creating a better community for everyone. There is still a lot of work left to do to make this world more equitable for everyone so I want to leave you with some groups that would be great to get involved with over the summer.

YWCA

The mission of the YWCA is to empower women in the community to help them build a sustainable life for themselves and their families. The YWCA also works to eliminate racism and promote justice and equality through their programs.

Kheprw Institute

Kheprw is an organization dedicated to community empowerment through self-mastery. KI is on a mission to create a more just and equitable society through nurturing youth and young adults to be effective leaders in all areas.

SURJ

Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ) is an organization of predominantly white folks who fight for racial justice while also learning ways to use their white identity for the movement.

Younger Women’s Task Force

The Younger Women’s Task Force is a group for young women by young women who purse social justice and intersectional spaces to fight for liberation through community organizing efforts and a feminist lens.

Civic Engagement and Leadership Development

Purdue’s CELD office is home to many opportunities to serve the Purdue community directly as well as the surrounding Lafayette community. The CELD continuously runs the ACE food pantry and also has a street team working to eliminate homelessness in Lafayette. They also have service events throughout the summer to get involved.

I encourage everyone to take some time out of their summer to serve their local community through one of these or other organizations that are pursing equality and justice. I will be interning with Kheprw Institute this summer so hopefully I will see some of you at our programming. By working together we can eliminate the systems of oppression that exist and build a better world for everyone.

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Grand Prix Community


Grand Prix week at Purdue is the week before dead week where students celebrate the semester, the coming of warm weather and the race (that not many boilermakers have actually been to). The week is one giant party of students coming together morning, noon and night to spend time together and express their excitement for the end of the semester. One last hoorah before the stress of finals sets in and the studying begins. 

This year the underrepresented students wanted an opportunity for them to really socialize and build community among one another during Grand Prix week. University Residences and the UR Global program created a week of events to do just that. The week of events encompassed critical discusssion, free ice cream, relay races, a talent show and finally a cookout. All of these events were focused on bringing the minority community of purdue together and giving them space to celebrate their identity, build community and have fun.

After talking with the attendees of the events, we found that the community cookout was something that students would like to carry on year after year. It was co-sponsored by diversity organizations from each college on campus and served up burgers, games and live music from a Chicago artist. The students and organizers alike enjoyed the ability to socialize and get to know new people as well as enjoy Sunday dinner together. Upon cleaning and packing up we all promised to carry this on and make a tradition for Grand Prix weeks for years to come. 

Does Purdue need a White Cultural Center?

Throughout my time at Purdue I have heard many students questioned why Purdue has a Black, Latino, Native American, and Asian cultural centers and not a white cultural center. This questioning comes from primarily white students wanting a center dedicated to their culture similar to what other groups have. 

This was the question that a group of students in Educational Studies at Purdue explored. For their final project for their course they developed a pop up Purdue White Cultural Center that was located in the Stewart center and Union Commons and attracted many students. 

The cultural center took a satirical approach and aimed to prove the point that Purdue does not need a White Culural Center. They had displays showing the way White Americans have historically and currently appropriated other cultures and claimed them as their own. It also displayed the ways colonization and privilege were used to establish dominance and the effect they had on minority groups. 

The pamphlets that the groups was handing out provided a scavenger hunt asking students to identify things that represented the history of people of color outside of their respective cultural centers. For instance it asked “Find a Purdue president that is a racial minority”, “Find a street or building on campus named after a person of color”, and “Find a purdue mascot that represents a racial minority”. This shows that Purdue’s campus is made up of white culture diminishing the need for a center. 

On Purdue’s campus, white students are the majority and white leadership and history is clearly displayed. There isn’t a need for a White Cultural center at purdue because it is all around us from John Purdue and Stephen Beering, to Amelia Earhart and Martin Jischke. From this the group aimed to show that the purpose of a cultural center is to create representation where it is not present and to provide a space of learning and engagement where students of color can go and not feel like a minority. 

According to Emma Noelke, one of the students who created the White Cultural center, there were mixed reactions from students who stopped by, but everyone was able to take away and understanding of why a White Cultural Center at Purdue would not be necessary. 

Acknowledging Racism toward Asians 

The Asian American community has garnered a lot of attention recently with the incident occurring on the United Airlines flight. A man of Asian decent was forcibly removed from the airline as his seat was needed for United crew members. 

Upon removal the man was battered and bloodied due to being dragged from his seat to the exit of the plane by security personnel. The incident has many contemplating whether or not this was an instance of racism or not. 

According to a Huffington Post article the targeting of the individual was not an act of racism as and algorithm was used to determine that he was the ideal person to remove. I agree that the targeting may not have been racist, the the escalation of force to the point that the man was physically harmed likely was. 

The fact that the security guards were willing to escalate to that degree of force and brutality shows their lack of respect for his humanity and well being. The use of force also indicates their ability to exercise their control over another human being that they deem to be inferior in that situation that could have been settled many other ways without using brutal force. 

The Huffington Post also discusses the idea that people a less likely to associate revise with the Asian American community. It is not an issue that gains as much attention or is easy to detect compared to racism toward other racial groups. 

The lack of perceived racism toward the Asian American community comes from the idea that Asians serve as a “model minority” that supersede other minority groups and are accepted by the White race. Despite the perceived success of Asians, this does not make them immune to racism and discrimination. 

This is a result of a history of exclusion in America and as many negative stereotypes about Asians as there are “positive stereotypes”. 

I encourage everyone to take some time learning more about this history of Asians and Asian Americans as well as open yourself up to hearing their experiences to further understand their perspective by visiting Purdue’s Asian and Asian American Resource and Cultural Center.  

Curly in College

 

Calling all curly girls, Curly in College is a new organization that works to empower college students and give them the confidence to wear their hair naturally. It is a national organization, founded by Purdue alumna Ashley Scott, that has chapters on college campuses around the U.S.

The Fro Down event served to introduce students to the organization and let them know the benefits of Eden Body Works products, which is their partner brand. At the event students were able to see hair tutorials for natural hair care and styling by a stylist who specializes in naturally curly hair. Student were also able to hear from the PR and Social Media Specialists of Eden Body Works on what it’s like to work for a brand that empowers women and why they value hair and body care. Lastly, the students in attendance received bags with four different full sized products from Eden.

At the event students were able to enjoy and celebrate their natural hair and talk among others about ways to care for their hair and bodies. It provided students with a space to be educated on natural hair care and have their questions answered on the best way to maintain healthy hair.

“It’s nice to see that there are spaces for black women on campus to be their authentic selves,” Naimah Ali, Purdue sophomore.

 

Afro Week

The Africa Student Association at Purdue is a vibrant and active group of students, from varying African nations or from African heritage, who are dedicated to sharing the history, culture and ways of life in African society. 

Every spring ASA holds a week of events to celebrate and share African culture with Purdue’s campus. This year the week of events was titled Afro Week and brought together students from all walks of life to participate in and further understand African culture. 

I attended a few of the events throughout the week and documented the experience in the video. Each day of the week had a different theme and activity associated. 

On Monday, the theme was “so you think you’re African?” where students shared their experiences growing up in African nations though a family feud style game. On Tuesday, we learned how to cook jollof rice as staple dish especially in Nigerian culture and watched a movie together about civil war in African nations. On Wednesday we had a conversation about western beauty standards and how African women especially with darker skin tones are perceived to be not as beautiful. On Thursday the theme was gender bender. We had a competitions between two teams consisting of both genders and men had to perform stereotypical female tasks and vice versa to win points. For example, men had to braid hair and paint nails and the women had to rap and shoot baskets. On Friday was African/ASA pride day where they wore traditional African clothing or ASA tshirts. And finally on Saturday was 54 Shades of Africa a formal event with a series of performances depicting African culture and history through skits, poetry, song and dance. 

This week was a rewarding experience for students to immerse themselves into another culture in order to understand the experiences of others and gain a new perspective on the African continent and the countries within. 

Equal Pay for Equal Work

This past Tuesday, April 4th, was Equal Pay Day. This day symbolizes how far into the calendar year that a women has to work in order to make the amount of money men earned in the previous year. This conveys the idea that because women work the same amount but earn less than men, they must work longer to earn the same amount of pay. And the gender pay gap is even greater for women of color on the job. 

I want to share with you some facts that I came across on the gender pay gap and the gender discrimination that exists on the job and through compensation. The Center for American Progress has everything you need to know on the gender wage gap. 

1. Women earn 79 cents for every dollar a man makes. 

The median annual wages of a woman amounts to $39,621 compared to $50,383 for men. The loss in wages that women face is enough to pay months of rent, groceries and child care. 

2. Women earn less than men in all occupations with the exception of five.

Men out-earn women in all professions except: wholesale and retail buyers, police and sheriffs patrol officers, bookkeeping, accounting, general office clerks. Even in “pink collar” professions, in which women are disproportionately represented, men still earn more. 

3. The gender wage gap continues to grow as women grow older. 

Between the ages of 15 and 24 the pay gap is $4,373 per year, but when women reach 46-64 the pay gap is $15,404 less than their male counterparts. 

4. Gender wage gap has negative consequences on families’ financial security

In families where the woman is the sole or primary breadwinner, those families are missing out on wages that the woman is not earning solely due to her gender. 

5. The gender wage gap could be closed, but Congress is preventing that from happening. 

Congress has yet to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act into law which would close the gender pay gap by prohibiting employers from gender-based pay discrimination. This bill has been introduced in every congress since 1997 and still has not been passed. 

Carnaval Celebration

This past Thursday the Chicago Samba came to Purdue Memorial Union to perform and host a carvaval celebration. Students, staff and community members came out to dance and enjoy the performance. 

Earlier in that day the members of the Chicago Samba also held a Samba and percussion workshop to teach students the fundamentals of Brazilian dance and music. 

This was a part of the Celebrate Brazil series to highlight the Brazilian culture through food, dance, music and history. 

Recruiting Diversity

When thinking about diversity on Purdue’s campus, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the great efforts that go into recruiting underrepresented students to Purdue. There are many students, staff and organizations that are dedicated to supporting the process by which underrepresented students apply, visit and ultimately accept their admission to Purdue.

This past Friday was Boiler Tracks Day. Boiler Tracks, a student organization dedicated to recruiting underrepresented students from 8th grade to the moment student accept their admission. Boiler Tracks Day  was a day for admitted underrepresented students to have the opportunity to attend classes with current underrepresented students to experience a day in the life of a Purdue student.

“I enjoyed the ability to connect with students and answer all of their questions about the attending Purdue,” said Jalynn Evans. “I also enjoyed hearing all the students express their commitment to attend Purdue in the fall based off of their experience during Boiler Tracks Day.”

“A lot can be learned from different groups of people and increasing the diversity will increase everyone’s educational experiences at Purdue,” Antonia Roach.

Boiler Tracks Day built relationships between current students, staff and perspective students. Boiler Tracks creates a network of support for underrepresented students coming in the the university and the ability for them to pay it forward through the organization for the next incoming class of underrepresented students.