Sunday, February 18, 2007

News: Women of Color Speak Out

By Linh Tran

Lang has diversity issues. Around the school, administrators, faculty, students, and even the women’s bathroom stalls say so.

Nowhere is this sentiment expressed more passionately, perhaps, than at the Lang cafeteria on West 11th Street, where students from a Lang organization meet before, after, and between classes to discuss how they are affected by Lang’s lack of ethnic and racial diversity in the classrooms and in the faculty. They are called the Women of Color.

Composed mostly of Lang women who felt that they did not have a voice within the university,
the group formed in the fall of 2004 and became an official organization during the spring semester. Their purpose is to provide a space where women of color can speak out.

“Before we came together, there wasn’t a space for people of color to come and talk about the racism that happens in the classroom, to talk about things that affect us as a community,” said Jamila Thompson, a Lang junior and active member of the group.

“We were lonely, voiceless, ignored, and frustrated,” before Women of Color formed, said Amaya Noguera, a second semester senior. Sophomore Charnell Covert said she feels ostracized as the only ethnic voice in a classroom, and frustrated because she feels that she has to over-represent an entire group of people. Other members have had the same experience.

The group will host a number of events throughout the semester, including film screenings and literature
workshops, and will also start a newspaper called Habari Gani, Swahili for “what’s the news.” The paper is a joint collaboration with Columbia students and will be distributed on both campuses. The women will also bring back a health discussion series they hosted last semester.

“We really try to do things that are both political and engaging,” said Lang sophomore Charnell Covert about the series, that dealt with issues like preventing HPV and HIV/AIDS.

Last semester, the women also produced and put on a well attended play by Ntozake Shange, called, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf. Many of the group’s members performed in the play and the others helped with the production and advertising.

The event received positive reviews and this semester Sarah Lawrence College invited the group to produce the play at their college.

“This is our way to stake a claim in this university,” Noguera said. “To speak as one voice. To come together as one entity and gain power through that.”

The group meets every Friday at 6:30pm on the 4th floor of 55 W. 13th St.

1 comment:

mariamariacuchita said...

Sounds like a great undertaking!!
So important to be able to have that community. Thanks.