Monday, May 4, 2015

Event Highlight: Incite! Color of Violence 4 Conference 3/27-3/29

By OSDP Student Assistants

The INCITE! Color of Violence Conference centers and engages “grassroots organizing projects, critical conversations, national actions, transnational campaigns, and community building strategies to end colonial, racial, and gender-based violence against women of color, trans and queer people of color, and our communities.” This year’s conference, Color of Violence 4 (COV4) Beyond the State: Inciting Transformative Possibilities, highlighted “emerging strategies and new frameworks that focus on ending violence without relying on policing, mass incarceration, restrictive legislation, and other systems of violence and control.” This year was especially significant because INCITE! celebrated its fifteenth year anniversary of radical social activism. 
This year the Office of Student Diversity Programs and the SGA JSS Activism/Civic Engagement Fund funded five Skidmore seniors to attend COV4. This was their experience:

Kiara Boone '15
Attending the COV4 conference was a transformative experience for me. It was an honor and joy to be surrounded by such beautiful people and activists who are committed to disrupting and ultimately dismantling systematic violence against people of color and trans and queer people of color. Some prominent activists, advocates, and scholars there were: Cece McDonald, Renata Hill, Angela Davis, Andrea Smith, and more. I cannot explain how amazing the aura was at the conference. I have never been in a space where there was so much love, support, and understanding. 

Some of the workshops I attended were focused on community based safety teams, the school-to-prison and foster care-to-prison pipelines, and responses to natural disasters that affect communities of color. The school-to-prison pipeline workshop stuck with me the most. I had heard of and discussed the phenomenon before, so going into the workshop I wasn’t looking for a description of how the process occurs, but more so hoping to leave with some strategies for actively disrupting this process in the schools I will work at in the future. Little did I know, my entire mind would be blown, and that is still an understatement. Popular discourse about the school-to-prison pipeline describes schools as mechanisms that funnel students into prison. However, Connie Wun, workshop facilitator, argues that schools themselves serve as carceral institutions. Just let that one sink in for a minute. After this shocking revelation, we discussed how schools impose gendered and racialized discipline practices that target black and brown students. I loved that this workshop focused on the effects these discipline practices had on black and brown girls because often the conversations revolves around our young men, and neglects the experiences of our girls.

My two highlights from the conference were hearing Angela Davis speak and the impromptu performance by Monica McIntyre (cellist and songwriter) and talented poets from the audience. I left the conference feeling refreshed, empowered, hopeful, and loved. I learned so much in the span of 3 days, but I know there is so much more to learn and unlearn. I look forward to attending more Incite! conferences in the future. I also look forward to finding more ways to get involved in community efforts to actively resist systematic violence against POC.

Timothy Kim '15
The COV4 conference was definitely an eye opening and empowering moment for me. When I first entered the conference room, I felt overwhelmed. However, it was not the “typical” feeling of being overwhelmed, which usually makes me nervous and anxious. Rather, I felt excited and, ironically, calm. The room full of activists and people who genuinely care about social justice allowed me to see the passion and amazing work that people are already doing right now.

While many of the topics discussed throughout the conference were painful and frustrating, the atmosphere of the conference was the total opposite. There was support, joy, and love filled in each sessions. Such experience radically changed my view of organizing how it starts from taking care of each other and forming a healthy and loving community. I am grateful that I was able to attend the conference and excited to see how I can be part of a movement of resisting and organizing against oppression and violence in this world. (To be continued on Timothy's follow up blog post on neoliberalism and the workshops he attended.)
Gerolly Lorenzo '15
The INCITE! Color of Violence Conference was one of the most transformative experiences within my four-year career at Skidmore. There were about 1,600 people dedicated to transforming our communities into spaces that wouldn’t be dependent on the state or dependent on institutions to survive and live freely.

The amount of creativity and intelligence about issues that I’ve mainly studied in an academic setting was truly refreshing. I learned so much from organizers, activists and community leaders and was astonished by the amount of support and love each workshop and room was filled with.
The workshops I attended were all amazing and insightful. One of the first workshops I attended was about the Womb to Prison pipeline - an issue I never heard of or thought about before. I was familiar with the school to prison pipeline but to extend it to the womb to prison pipeline was mind blowing and really put into perspective the extent to which we speak about specific issues. The school to prison pipeline does not start in schools but in the wombs of pregnant women on color that are denied medical services and are neglected during their pregnancy. This also included women in prison. This workshop was organized by the organization Mama Sana and it was amazing to have many Latina women talking about this issue as well as speaking about their own experiences. Another highlight and one of my favorite moments was taking a photo with Angela Davis- it was a dream come true!
This INCITE! Color of Violence Conference has definitely inspired me to always be involved in community organizing and activism. The amount of love, resilience and support in community spaces as this one was inspiring and uplifting. It was difficult to come back after such a great weekend but it will always be one of the most memorable experiences during my undergraduate career.

Tobi Ewing '15
INCITE! stands as one of the most metamorphic experiences of my life! Coming into the conference I was very excited to be apart of the conference, but I had no clue how enriching the conference was going to be. For four days I was in a mixed concentration of queer people of color, people of color, activist leaders, black mothers, fathers, parents and grandparents, business owners, fashionistas, lovers, queens, kings, witches and fairy dust. It was the most magically overwhelming experience, I literally have no words for how fulfilling the conference was.

The workshops I attended covered the subjects of black mothers, reproductive justice, lgbtq activism, queer families and holistic self-care methodology. Two of my favorite workshops were “Making Legacy, Making Life: QTPOC Family Building Beyond the State” (part one and two) and “We Always Resist: Combating Reproductive Oppression in the Black Community”. The queer family building workshop was really important too because I had never been in a space where I could talk to queer parents and future parents about having babies and queer family structures. It was so nice to be validated by queer parents who wanted kids and a partner. The was much diversity within the panel about how they went about having kids and building their family. Some married opposite sex friends for marriage benefits and some used holistic methods to prepare their body for conception. It was fun to hear non-normative family relative names, like “huncle,” not aunt, not uncle, which was used by a woman identified queer person. I stumbled in the second workshop. I was attracted to the commentary around black mothers, but had a very narrow view of reproductive justice. I simply saw it was the fight for abortions, little did I know it encompassed so much more than that. I learned how unjust reproductive practices affect the youth, sex education, sex centers (like planned parenthood), abortion rights, trans people, particularly trans women, and prison pipelines. I found myself very passionate about identifying and fighting systems that make reproduction and safer sex viable for lower income communities of color. This workshop helped me discover a new interest of mine.

Never have I went to a party, danced my butt off, and left crying a million tears of joy. The party was one of my many highlights. What I thought was going to be a kiki of booty shaking and flirty eye contact, end up being a spiritual uprising for myself. After the party, an improv jam session brewed. There was live music, poetry, singing and rapping. It was everythinggggg!

Leaving INCITE!, I was inspired, encouraged and equipped to fight for justice, reclaim space, educate my community and myself and strengthen my self-love. As someone going into corporate America, this space was somewhat bittersweet because I know I wasn’t going into a position where I could fully dedicate myself to social justice issues. I am taking everything I learned to feed myself and keep myself sane in a world that is so violent.

Keep scrolling for some awesome snapshots!

Left to Right: Gerolly Lorenzo '15, Angela Davis, Glenibel Cruz '15, and Timothy Kim '15

Left to Right: Gerolly Lorenzo '15, Tobi Ewing '15, Kiara Boone '15, and Glenibel Cruz '15

Left to Right: Gerolly Lorenzo '15, Kiara Boone '15, Glenibel Cruz '15, Tobi Ewing '15, and Timothy Kim '15

Left to Right: Gerolly Lorenzo '15, Kiara Boone '15, Glenibel Cruz '15, Tobi Ewing '15, and Timothy Kim '15

Left to Right: Tobi Ewing '15 and Monica McIntyre

Special thanks to OSDP and the SGA JSS Activism/Civic Engagement Fund for making this experience possible!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Event Highlight: OSDP One Night Stand Talent Show 4.8.15

By Kiara Boone '15

For the past seven years, OSDP has hosted the One Night Stand talent show with the Admissions Office during Discovery Tour weekend. The purpose of the show is to showcase student talent on campus and for prospective students to get a chance to see some of the campus clubs in action. Each year there are three cash prizes: $100 first, $75 second, $50 third.

This year's One Night Stand was MC'd by Tobi Ewing '15 and DyAnna Washington '18 from QLIC (Queer Lives in Color).

Student performances were spectacular. Duo Rashawnda Williams '17 and Lebo Mokoena '17 gave a riveting spoken word performance. Jailyn Salcedo '18 debuted her spoken word poetry. UJIMA's step team graced the stage. Lea Peterson '16 and SaltWater sang D'Angelo's "Really Love" accompanied by percussions. John Li '15 danced to "Flight from Paris". Romario Barnes '18 performed a piano cover of "Good Enough" by Jussie Smollet. Kiana Doumbia '17 and Zimkita Mpumpula '18 danced to D'Banj's "Oliver Twist".

Following the set performances audience members were encouraged to get on stage and showcase their talents as well. It was thrilling to see prospies jump right in and perform. Some prospie performances included a rendition of Anna Kendrick's "Cups" and a spoken word piece. The competition was fierce. UJIMA's step team placed first, John Li placed second, and Rashawnda and Lebo placed third.

As the talent show came to a close, the event transitioned into a karaoke night. Overall it was a fun night filled with amazing talent and many, many laughs.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Student Spotlight: Jobelle Mesa '17 Lift Every Voice Secretary & Public Relations

by Timothy Kim

What is your major? Where are you from?
I am a Music and Psychology double major. I'm from New Jersey and my parents are from the Philippines.
Why/how did you end up at Skidmore?
When I took a tour of Skidmore, I really liked the music building. When I saw it, I thought "Music must be good here!" I always wanted to do music in college, so that is why I decided to come to Skidmore.
What convinced you to join Lift Every Voice and later E-board?
I decided to audition for Lift Every Voice, because I liked what I saw at the First year Student Showcase - they had really good energy. After joining, I just loved being part of Lift Every Voice, which convinced me to join E-board, so could help everyone else love Lift Every Voice too! I am currently the Secretary and Public Relations. I love discussing plans with our members. Making posters for our events is also a lot of fun. I also enjoy being part of the decision-making process, and helping with coming up with shows, music, rehearsals, and etc. 
What is Lift Every Voice's goal on campus?
We call ourselves an inspirational choir. So we try to have fun during rehearsals, but we also try bring meaningful music to the campus. By performing inspirational - and sometimes serious - music, we hope to inspire everyone at Skidmore.
What is your favorite Lift Every Voice event and why?
Last year we went to a gospel competition at Binghamton University. We were able to see different gospel styles, and we got to show how we do gospel here at Skidmore. Plus, we won a trophy!
What are some of Lift Every Voice's future plans.
Hopefully next year, we'll be able to throw this event called Soul Foods, which brings together gospel/inspirational music and comfort food. That way people get to enjoy good food and good music at the same time, which will hopefully help everyone relax and have a good time. 
What other clubs/activities on campus are you involved in?
I am a piano tutor and also part of a small jazz ensemble.

Is there anything else that you would like to highlight?
Come to Lift Every Voice's final show on Tuesday, April 28th at 9:30pm in Wilson Chapel. The show is pool party themed, so there will be some summer food! Also, come audition for Lift Every Voice next semester - we have a ton of fun and I promise we're a really nice group of people and musicians!

Lift Every Voice is the only gospel choir on campus and seeks to use their exclusive sound to unite the Skidmore community through inspirational songs and songs of worship. Lift Every Voice gospel/inspirational choir is dedicated to providing the Skidmore community, and the greater community at large, with a different unique outlet for self expression.

For those who do not know about gospel, here are some articles:

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Student Spotlight: Tsering Choden '17, Asian Cultural Awareness Club President

By Gerolly Lorenzo '15
From left to right: Diki Dolma '17, Tsering Choden '17, Timothy Kim '15 and Dikyi Wangmo '18

Where are you from? What is your major? 
Originally I’m from Nepal but I live in NYC, Queens. My major is Environmental Studies.

What is your favorite part about being a part of ACA?
I guess when I started out I wanted to be more involved and out there and I realized I could do more in ACA and have more of an impact on the students.

How has being part of ACA impacted or influenced your time at Skidmore? 
It has made me more aware about different kinds of issues especially with identity. It hasn’t been long since I came here from America so the shift was very overwhelming because over there I’m a part of majority. My first year it felt weird because it dawns on you to be part of the minority. After joining ACA I met people that felt the same way and people that I connected with. It was about raising awareness and the importance of standing together.
Who is someone that you consider a role model or are inspired by?
I actually don’t have that kind of person. Instead of having that person I get inspired by regular people that I actually see and come in contact with. Big personalities feel distant to me and so I get inspired by people near me that I can talk to and interact with. So like friends or professors.

What is one thing that you are passionate about?
I don’t know what I’m passionate about. I like being involved in things like being in the flow of things or watching from the distance. I like being involved in anything in a conversation or any work activity.

What is your favorite event in ACA? 
Cultural Night Market. I also enjoyed East Coast Asian American Student Union Conference we attended. I’m also very excited about the comedy/poetry night we are having soon.

What are some upcoming events or programming for ACA?
Our Annual ACA Dinner and the comedy/poetry night with Hari Kondabolu and Alex Dang.

What is a fun fact that most people do not know about you? 
I can be very sarcastic with my jokes even though people see me as quiet. I also mimic people I’ve known for a long time very well.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Student Spotlight: Rula Issa '17, Hayat President

By Timothy Kim '15

(from left) Mohammed Almashhadani, Rula Issa, Masum Rumi at Eid al Adha celebration
What is your major? Where are you from?
I am a Sociology and International Affairs double major. I'm originally from Bosnia but have been living in Ohio.

Why/how did you end up at Skidmore?
I ended up at Skidmore because of the Opportunity Program. 

What convinced you to join Hayat and later E-board?
I am Muslim and joining Hayat was a way for me to have a safe space at Skidmore to talk about issues and to find people that have the same experiences as me.

What is Hayat's goal on campus?
Our goal is to promote the cultures surrounding the Middle East, Northern Africa, and South Asia. We hold events such as lectures and movie screenings. We celebrate certain holidays and traditions from these areas such as Diwali and Eid al Adha. We also dialogue about current issues surrounding Islam and conflicts in the Middle East and South Asia as well.

How does Hayat relate to your identity here at Skidmore? Does it help, does it make you question your identity, solidify or make your identity stronger?
Hayat relates to my identity, because I am Middle Eastern and I am Muslim as well. By being at Skidmore, which is a predominantly White school, I already question my identity a lot. Hayat gives me a space where I can connect with people who share the same experiences as I do, and Hayat helps me feel more comfortable with my identity.

What is your favorite Hayat event and why?
I think my favorite Hayat event is the Eid al Adha celebration we did at the beginning of last semester. It's my favorite event because it was our first event that we threw this academic year. It was also very successful! Personally I enjoyed the event a lot, because I was not able to celebrate Eid for such a long time. So having the opportunity to celebrate it at Skidmore was so great. (Check out the Event Highlight of Eid Dinner that Hayat hosted last semester. Click HERE!)

What are some Hayat's future plans?
We plan on holding more events like lectures, such as a talk on what is Islam or about current issues in the Middle East or South Asia.

What other clubs/activities on campus are you involved in?
I was also an active member of United Minds, which is another OSDP club.

Interested in joining Hayat?
Hayat has its general meetings on Thursdays at 6pm in the ICC.
Hayat also has great events coming up, so keep an out for them!
Also, check out and "like" Hayat's Facebook Page.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Event Highlight: Ujima Fashion Show 2.7.15

By Tobi Ewing '14

On Saturday, February 7, 2015, UJIMA celebrated the cultures and people of the black diaspora with their 24th Annual Fashion Show “All the Way Home”! The fashion show was hosted in JKB and brought out a crowd of over 100 students. This year’s show was directed by three brave and creative first-year students: Maryam Dewitt, Brittany Kent and Jamerly de la Cruz!

I left with my hands red and sore from all the applause I gave. This year’s show was absolutely amazing. The directors crafted the UJIMA show with the perfect balance of education and fashion.  The fashion show featured designers outside of the Saratoga metropolitan area and every scene featured a short visual presentation filled with facts about the black diaspora, cultures, media and positive leaders. Staying true to the mission of UJIMA, the audience left the show not only ready for a shopping spree, but with a rich history and understanding of many Black experiences.

Music was provided by Skidmore’s very own DJ Tesfa and the show had eight attention grabbing scenes!

Scene one, the “Newspaper Scene,” represented telling the world the different experiences of Black culture and to be proud to embrace who you are. This scene was followed by a performance by Skidaiko.
Scene two, the “African Scene,” brought awareness to African cultures. The designs were provided and designed by Charles Atobrah (Tinzclothing).
Scene three, the “Liberia Scene,” brought awareness to the documentary “Pray the Devil Back to Hell.” This scene was followed by a performance by UJIMA Step Team.
Scene four, the “Caribbean Scene,” accentuated the colorfulness and history of the Caribbean countries.
Scene five, the “Butterfly Scene,” brought awareness to the dictatorship of Trujillo in the Dominican Republic and the influence of the Minerva Sisters. This scene was followed by a performance by Spontane- US Generation, a rap/spoken work duo out of Cleveland, Ohio.
Scene six, the “N.D.L. Scene,”  highlighted the statistics that are pinned on the Black American community. Numbers Don’t Lie critiqued the connotations behind this “empirical data.”
Scene seven, the “Americanized Scene,” demonstrates the clothing Black cultures have assimilated to once being influenced by American media. 
Scene eight, the “Briefcase Scene” demonstrated one’s journey, returning from their traditional roots and bringing those traditions along with Black people no matter where they go.

After the show, I spoke with Kiara Boone, one of the models and an OSDP student assistant. Kiara stated that her favorite part of the show was walking on the stage in beautiful clothes in front of applauding friends and being able to teach the Skidmore community about her culture in a creative manner! The 24th annual UJIMA Fashion Show, “All The Way Home” was a complete success and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Student Spotlight: Kevin Wang '17, ISU President

By Kiara Boone '15

(Kevin Wang '17 on left, at the 2014 ISU Potluck.)

What's your major? Where are you from?
I spent much of my childhood in China and moved to the United States when I was nine. I live in Gill, Massachusetts. I am an English major and business minor.  

What convinced you to join ISU and later join e-board?
I had a lot of affection for ISU from the moment I met the e-board during my first club fair. Anyone interested in joining was welcomed with open arms. The club was full of friendly people from all over the world, talented in every way. Having experienced the challenges and joys of being an international student, I wanted to make our campus more global-minded and help other international students in make the most out of their Skidmore experience.

What is ISU's goal on campus?
ISU’s goal is twofold - to promote a sense of community and international awareness among international and domestic students at Skidmore; and to develop club events that foster friendships and intercultural exchange.

How does ISU relate to your identity on campus? Does it help, does it make you question your identity, solidify or make your identity stronger?
ISU enables me to meet other Chinese students and reconnects me to the culture in which I was born. At the same time, ISU builds my knowledge of cultures that I know little about. I have seen countless ways in which ISU events empower students' identities and unite them across differences. 

​What is your favorite ISU event and why?
We have an annual potluck dinner during which students cook and share dishes from their own cultures. Cooks this year hailed from South Korea, France, India, China, Maldives, Sierra Leone, and Pakistan. While the food tasted amazing, cooking with others was half the fun. During the dinner, someone started playing Bollywood music on a speaker and students started dancing. Others joined, playing favorite pop songs from their countries. In the end, we all joined into an unforgettable dance circle. 

What are some of ISU's future plans for Skidmore?
ISU looks forward to continued growth in maturity and in services to students. While preserving favorites like the cultural show, we are focused on creating more current-events based activities like the various lecture-discussions and panel on the Hong Kong protests from last semester.  

Interested in ISU? 
ISU hosts general meetings every Wednesday 8-9pm in the ICC.
Join ISU's Facebook Group for more information.
Check out the OSDP Calendar for upcoming ISU events!