Monthly Archives: May 2012

Black Men in America

The social issue I want to address is the cultural barrier that results from the cultural upbringing of my professors versus myself as a young black male. This cultural barrier has challenged the effectiveness of my learning.

I’m a music major and I have learned music mostly by ear and informal lessons. I grew up listening to Gospel, R&B, Soul, and Hip-Hop. As for my other colleagues, most of them had formal training with a classical background, which is more common in white middle class culture. Most of my professors grew up with the same type of upbringing as these students, so professors have an easier time relating to the other students than someone like me.

One time that I personally felt the systems of oppression that young black males face was after I went to get my hair done. On my way home there was a car speeding and it was a cop approaching me. He asked if I had seen any suspicious activity while I was walking. I said no. He proceeded to call for back up and ask me for identification. As I went for my wallet in my back pocket he reached for his gun, so I put my hands up so he wouldn’t shoot me. After he took my wallet out of my pocket he asked if he could search me. I said yes. While searching me he found stacks of money in my pocket. He asked how I got the money. I told him I worked for it at Hardees, which he didn’t believe.
When back up showed up the back-up cop was a friend of one of my sisters. He started to question me to confirm who I was. In the middle of the search the back-up cop who knew my sister said to let me go home and that I wasn’t looking for trouble.
P.S. Here is some feed back from more experience successful black men.

Give Back Project: Week of Action

Hey there!

I am very excited to have the opportunity to participate as a student presenter at the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity. Our  Pre-Conference Institute Session was “Developing and Empowering the Student and Young Professional Beyond NCORE”. My giveback project was Rollins Week of Action 2012. I will be posting my presentation materials here as a guide for those interested in giving back to their communities through a social justice initiative like Week of Action.

I will be vlogging (video blogging) about my time at NCORE during my trip from May 28th-June 2nd 2012,  I will post the videos here, so tune in!

My Presentation:

My Video- Week of Action, A Snap-Shot:


My Personal Handout-Insight and Guidelines for Week of Action:

What social justice issue/issues your project will address on campus?

While attending the NCORE, I was prepared to learn a great deal about race and ethnic relations in our society, but not much beyond that. I was surprised to discover many sessions exposing the intricate dynamics of oppression, which go beyond race and ethnicity. Specifically, I learned about intersectionality: when different pillars of oppression work to support each other in order to bring down people of multiple identities. I had always been passionate about learning about systems of inequality, but I was convinced it was impossible to make change that could truly benefit oppressed people across the board. At NCORE, I realized that the ‘-isms’ that we talk about in social justice work are tightly interrelated, and historically the discrimination and public policies that have held down people of any minority identity, conversely oppresses all minorities. Furthermore, many of the systems in place in American society are utilized to disenfranchise multiple marginalized identities, even though they may not appear as such.

For my Give Back Project, I exposed Rollins College to the intersections between racism, sexism, ableism, classism, homophobia, lookism, religious oppression, xenophobia, political oppression, and introvert oppression through a week long initiative called Week of Action which promoted equality through increasing literacy of these intersections. The 2012 Rollins Week of Action took place from April 16th-21st and each day of the week was centered on addressing two particular forms of oppression. We sought to not only raise awareness concerning how such oppressions are manifested, but also highlight the various ways in which these “isms” intersect. We educated the Rollins campus on how forms of discrimination interact on multiple levels, ultimately contributing to systematic social inequality.


Share one example of how the issue/issues manifest in your personal lives on this campus

 All people in our society have multiple identity factors that intersect to make who they are. Personally, as an Afro-Caribbean, queer cis-woman I feel first hand how my multiple identities are interrelated, specifically because many of my identities describe marginalized groups in our society. I have been disheartened to witness real-life situations where economic inequality worked disenfranchise people in a lower socioeconomic class, as well as worked to keep racial minorities from achieving comprehensive education, robbing women and trans-identified people of equal employment opportunities, and blocking immigrant families from gaining the opportunity for American citizenship.   These are just a few of the many situations that marginalized people feel the strain of oppression on multiple levels in our society.

Personally, I have had to overcome strong messages of inadequacy that come from our society about being a woman and being black in America. Not only do women have to deal with the strict ideal of beauty in our society, but it is an added pressure when that ideal includes whiteness as the standard. All my life I have been in the racial minority, and my experience was amplified when I began attending the majority white and wealthy Rollins College. I found myself not fitting any ideal of beauty in the eyes of many of my peers at Rollins, but through my awareness of intersectionality, I realized how society utilizes it’s multiple institutions to warp young minds into believing these oppressive ideals about beauty. It is so important to realize how multifaceted oppression is in our society, because if we do not, there is great potential that we will ignore the true roots of that oppression.


Share one example of how the issue and issues manifest in our campus life and system.

 Rollins is a predominantly white, upper class, Christian institution. Many students do not realize the intersections of their identities and how they affect themselves and others. This affects the campus climate when students with oppressed identities become part of the campus community. The typical Rollins student does not realize that they have privilege and that their privilege affects other students; therefore many minority students do not feel comfortable on campus. Week of Action with a focus on intersectionality, draws attention to the privileges that students, faculty, and staff have, and engages the campus in conversation to start bridging dominate and subordinated identities. It is difficult to permeate the bubble of privilege in one week with activities and events that may not bring in students that have most privilege and are the most oblivious to their power within the system; having Week of Action as an annual program continues to bring up these discussions and concepts to a group of students that would not have been exposed to it otherwise.

 What are the guidelines for your NCORE giveback?


18 Steps for Your Own Week of Action!

  1. Identify an issue related to social justice that you are passionate about.
  2. Research your topic’s relevance to your college campus.
  3. Create a mission statement and identify goals.
  4. Confirm your giveback goals with your Office of multicultural affairs.
  5. Separate topic into five main areas. For instance if you were doing a week about feminism, you could organize it into: employment equality, violence against women, beauty ideal, reproductive rights, and lgbt equality.
  6. Organize a timeline for your goals. Give yourself enough time to achieve your goals while juggling your studies.
  7. Form a committee. Reach out to people who will be dedicated contributors to your week of action. Try to reach out to people from many different corners of campus. Set up consistent meeting times and appoint a secretary to take notes during meetings.
  8. Structure of your give back. Identify the types of activities you want to do whether it be campus programming, community activism, or anything else you can think of. Identify who you want to work with and who could potentially support you financially.
  9. Finalize your giveback activities. Book locations on campus, set up a budget, and reach out to any companies you plan on working with.
  10. Design advertisements for your activities and plan where you plan to spread the word. Start a Facebook event and other social media advertisements, create t-shirt design, and work out advertisement locations (t-shirts, flyers, radio, campus newspaper, ect.).
  11. Apply for funding. Utilize your student activity funding, student government association, campus offices, and any other way you can cover the costs of your week of action.
  12. Checkin with your Office of Multicultural Affairs about your progress and ask for feedback.
  13. Confirm logistics with all parties involved. Buy supplies, order food and t-shirts, and double-check everything.
  14.  Notify local and campus newspapers, news stations, and other campus and community sources to attend and cover your events. You want this to be remembered!
  15.  Advertise Blast! Reach out every corner of campus and take the time to speak to people personally about your week of action and why you specifically want them to be a part. Talk individually to your administration, PR office, presidents of Greek organizations, presidents of cultural organizations, and professors who may give extra credit for student participation. Put up posters in unique ways and make sure your week of action is visible.
  16.  Execute your week of action and keep calm along the way. Be sure to check in with your Committee throughout the week.
  17. Thank all who participated in your Week of Action, especially those who supported financially. Personalized thank you notes describing your success and small tokens of appreciation are great.
  18. Appreciate the work you have done! Create a memory book or photo album. Create a giveback presentation!

Thanks for veiwing!

If you have any other questions, please contact me at

In Solidarity,

Danielle Cameron

Class of 2014

Office of Multicultural Affairs

Boxes at NCORE

This summer I was honored with the opportunity to present my project “Boxes: A Social Commentary” at the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity (NCORE) during the pre-conference “Developing and Empowering the Student and Young Professional Beyond NCORE 2012.”

Here I have posted a reproduction of my part of the presentation.

Introduction and Backstory to “Boxes”
Hello everyone. My name is Michael Barrett, and my presentation today is about stereotypes; however, we’re going to take a very unconventional approach to the subject.

I’m a bit of an outsider who has infiltrated this world of activism and multiculturalism, so you’re going to get an outsider’s perspective. Some of my interests include environmental studies and space exploration, and you’ll see that influence later in the presentation. There will also be watermelons, so look out for that.

This year I’ll be a senior at Rollins, and I can still remember back to the first few days that I was on campus. Within that short time, I felt that I belonged with the Office of Multicultural Affairs, or OMA as I’ll be calling it. I didn’t know why I belonged there, at least not on a conscious level. My life had not been significantly shaped by racism, sexism, classism, or religious intolerance, yet something about OMA’s mission to diversity and inclusivity spoke to me, and I’ve been with them ever since.

However, since I could not really relate to the issues that OMA usually deals with, it was still a bit of a struggle to find my place in this all-inclusive office.

I’m naturally cerebral and geared towards abstract thinking, so I ended up looking for the lowest common denominator in all of OMA’s associates as part of an unconscious mission to figure myself out.

I found it last summer after a spark of inspiration from watching a video of Alan Watts, who was a comparative theological scholar and an interpreter of Eastern philosophy for the Western world. This particular video was about putting everything in boxes and that wherever human beings have been around, you see rectangles and straight lines.

At that point, I was like a fish that realized what water is, and my mind was racing with different boxes and rectangles. I opened up PowerPoint and started compiling all the examples I could think of.

For that list, click here: We live in boxes

The Video

Many people to whom I first showed the presentation wanted me to make a video out of it. For this part I decided to focus on the human side of Boxes.


The Personal Side

I mentioned in the introduction that this project was the result of me figuring myself out. It took over two years, but I finally realized what box I was in that was compelling me to be at OMA and solidified my place by co-founding Introverts United.

Introversion ought to be part of diversity discussions because people who are oriented more strongly towards introversion are often discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of personal identity. Quiet people are often mis-labeled as shy, antisocial, or snobbish just becasue they are quiet. Leadership today is more strongly associated with charisma than good ideas, even though there is no correlation between the two. Getting a job often depends on making a good first impression with a big personality. Because of the widely held yet seldom articulated extroverted-bias in society, many introverts can feel like an alien in their own culture because they have been constantly pushed to be more extroverted rather than to make use of their own personal strengths.

On a more simple note, I’m just a college student trying to connect with people, which is difficult enough on its own. All of these boxes are not helping. I can’t connect with a label or communicate to someone in a box or if I’m in a box myself. Not to say all boxes are bad. I enjoy my privacy, but I also need authentic interaction as much as anyone else.

Boxes store away, separate, and isolate. They can be good for organizing things, but not for understanding people.

Photo Credit: Nicole Inclan


The first minute of this video is the best critique on labels that I have been able to find.


This is the original video that inspired my project.




Evolving Marriage

A few days ago, the President of the United States said, “It is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think that same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

“It’s about time,” I first thought to myself. The fact that this is still even an issue is rather disappointing to me, but at least there’s progress.

Same-sex marriage has been in the public sphere for a while now, and there are several positions taken against it that are just not convincing.

Such as:

It’s too radical.
Since when is joining the military, getting married, and starting a family radical?

It’s unnatural.
So is plastic, and plastic’s everywhere. Plus, being heterosexual is not a magic bullet to a happy relationship; trust me on this one.

It’s against God, the Bible, or certain religious beliefs.
We don’t live in a theocracy (thank God), and while you’re entitled to your religious beliefs, they’re irrelevant to the  secular aspects of marriage. The movement in support of same-sex marriages has not really been trying to convince the church that it’s a good idea, rather it has been working to secure the same secular rights for same-sex couples that traditional couples enjoy.

It’s a slippery slope to people marrying turtles or something.
This one has its logical fallacy stated explicitly, and let me know when turtles can sign legal documents.

Children need a mother and a father.
If that’s the case, then I think the children who need the most help are those with a single parent or none at all.

It’s an issue of State’s rights.
No it isn’t.
The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution states, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
So, States do not have the right to discriminate.

It will destroy the sanctity of marriage.
Like how interracial marriages did in America before 1967?

In 1958, two residents of Virginia got married in Washington D.C. to avoid the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which prohibited the marriage between a white person and any non-white person. Upon returning to Virginia, police invaded their home in the middle of the night and arrested them from their bed, their crime being a white/non-white couple that had married out of state and returned to Virginia. The resulting Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia (1967) declared that discriminating couples on the basis of race was unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

Interracial marriages used to be illegal and even justified under God. Now they are hardly a controversy and can happen relatively freely under the law, and so I think it will one day be with same-sex marriages.

Having said all that, even though the arguments against same-sex marriages are not that interesting, the fact that some people take them seriously is. The world is a messy, diverse, and complicated place, whereas people for whatever reason are often trying to straighten things out and impose order on the world to make it easier to understand. The framing that marriage, which is deeply personal, is something special between a man and a woman can be a fundamental building block that gives meaning to people’s lives.

However, America is not really about protecting people’s fundamental assumptions. The America we are striving to be is about supporting freedom and equal rights, and discriminating a minority of people based on their sexual orientation is inconsistent with that goal.

Also, if people never learned to think outside the box, there would be no progress, as uncomfortable and vulnerable as coming out may be.