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Diversity and Inclusion

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They Call Me Q

Quarrat Ann Kadwani will perform her one-woman show, They Call Me Q, at Grinnell College on Monday, Oct. 23. The performance will begin at 7 p.m. in the Harris Center Concert Hall, 1114 10th Ave., Grinnell.

They Call Me Q is an autobiographical one-woman play, written and performed by Kadwani. The show, which is free and open to the public, documents Kadwani's story as she grows up in the Bronx as a girl from Bombay, India. In the course of one hour, she transforms into 13 different characters who have shaped her life. The show focuses on her attempt to balance the pressures of her traditional parents and seeking acceptance in her new culture.

The NY Theater Guide proclaimed They Call Me Q to be "filled with charm, humor and heart." BroadwayWorld: Washington's review described Q as "a personal look at the experiences that have shaped who Qurrat has become and who she's striving to be that simultaneously and expertly addresses the complexities inherent to defining identity in our contemporary, messy world."

Kadwani is an award-winning actress, producer, MC, TV host and philanthropist. She is the first South Asian female to have a solo play produced Off Broadway for which she has won awards including Best Actress, Best Play, Trailblazer from the South Asian International Performing Arts Festival and Cultural from the Asian American Pacific Islander Coalition.

She holds a bachelor's degree in theater from State University of New York – Geneseo, where she earned a double scholarship for her acting and directing contributions. She is also the founding artistic director of eyeBLINK, a multicultural nonprofit promoting social change through theater and dance.

The play is sponsored by Intercultural Affairs; Diversity and Inclusion; Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies; and Theatre and Dance.

UNITY Project Celebrates Individuality and Community

Members of the Grinnell community are invited to take part in an interactive art project designed to celebrate the uniqueness of each member of the community and raise awareness of how labels are impacting our perception of and interactions with the world.

Participants will string yarn between poles labeled with statements that reflect their identities to create a yarn canopy of human connectedness, ultimately showing that we are all connected by something.

The UNITY Project, 1033 Broad Ave., Grinnell, Iowa, will be open to the public the following days/times:

  • September 21, 4-7 p.m.
  • September 22, 5-8 p.m.
  • September 23, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • September 24, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Sponsors include Grinnell's Offices of Intercultural Affairs, Diversity and Inclusion, International Student Affairs, and Community Enhancement and Engagement. The Grinnell Arts Council is a community partner.

Technology and Human Rights Symposium

The Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations and Human Rights is sponsoring a Technology and Human Rights Symposium from March 7-10, 2017. The symposium will feature visiting authors and scholars who will discuss a wide array of topics.

All of the events are free and open to the public. Unless otherwise noted, they will take place in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101, at 1115 Eighth Ave., Grinnell.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

4 p.m.

Evgeny MorozovAuthor Evgeny Morozov will open the symposium with "Do We Have a Right to Our Data? Data Ownership and the Inequality Debate."

Morozov is author of The Net Delusion and To Save Everything, Click Here. His monthly column about technology and politics appears in The Observer in the United Kingdom and in newspapers in Germany, Spain, and France, among others. His writings also have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications. Previously a senior editor at The New Republic, he has been a fellow at Georgetown University and Stanford University.

Wednesday, March 8

4 p.m.

Mark LatoneroMark Latonero will present "Data, Technology and Vulnerable Populations."

Latonero is lead researcher for the Data and Human Rights initiative at the Data and Society Research Institute in New York City, where he is also a visiting scholar at New York University. At the University of Southern California, he is a research professor and the research director of the Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy, directing its Technology and Human Trafficking initiative. He works on tech and data-driven problems that involve vulnerable populations, including refugees. He has published numerous reports on the role of online, mobile, and data-driven technology in human trafficking, child exploitation, and migration.

7:30 p.m.

Sarah LabowitzSarah Labowitz ’04 will discuss "The Robots Are Coming: Technology, Work and Labor Rights."

Labowitz is co-director of the New York University Stern Center for Business and Human Rights and a research scholar in business and society at NYU Stern. She conducts research on human rights in different business sectors, with a particular focus on fast fashion. She previously worked at the U.S. State Department on cyber policy, Internet freedom, and human rights. She also has worked for the Fair Labor Association, the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, Yahoo, and Human Rights First.

Thursday, March 9

11 a.m.

Opal Tometi will give the Scholars' Convocation lecture, titled "The Role of Technology in the Black Lives Matter Movement. The lecture is co-sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Tometi co-founded Black Lives Matter, a movement to confront systemic racism, anti-black violence and social justice, in the wake of the murder of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2012. She is executive director at the Black Alliance for Just Immigration. Based in New York, Tometi is Nigerian-American writer, strategist, and community organizer advocating for racial justice, immigrants' rights, and black lives.Her interest in immigration reform was born out of personal experience. She grew up in Phoenix as the child of immigrants who moved to the U.S. from Nigeria.

4 p.m. in Faulconer Gallery

Joan LinderVisiting artist Joan Linder ’92 will present a gallery talk about her exhibition, "Operation Sunshine." The Faulconer Gallery — located in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, 1108 Park Ave., Grinnell — is sponsoring this segment of the symposium, which will be followed by a reception at 5 p.m. in the rotunda of the Bucksbaum Center.

Linder uses drawing to uncover how history can be buried: as artifacts in the ground, and as documents in the archive. She will discuss how her art explores brownfields and toxic waste sites near Niagara Falls, and delves into the related documents. Linder lives and works in Brooklyn and Buffalo, New York. She is the department chair and an associate professor of drawing at the University of Buffalo. Her work focuses on drawings that transform mundane subjects into rich images.

Friday, March 10

4–8 p.m. in Burling Library Lower Level Computer Room
Human Rights Wikipedia Edit-a-thon. Everyone is welcome.

W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About an Hour

​Comedian, political satirist, and host of CNN's United Shades of America will perform a show both humorous and thought-provoking at 6 p.m. Tuesday, February 28, 2017, in Harris Center Cinema.

"If you want to experience thought-provoking political and racial commentary with a smile on your face, don't miss W. Kamau Bell," says Sarah Purcell, director of the Rosenfield Program.

W. Kamau Bell is a sociopolitical comedian who is the host of the Emmy Award nominated, hit CNN docu-series, United Shades of America. Before United Shades, Kamau was best known for his critically acclaimed, but criminally short-lived FX comedy series, Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. The New York Times called Kamau “the most promising new talent in political comedy in many years.” Kamau is also proud to be the ACLU’s Ambassador of Racial Justice.  Kamau is also the host of Kamau Right Now!, a public radio talk show that airs on KALW in San Francisco. And he is also excited about his new politics podcast with his friend, comedian Hari Kondabolu, called Politically Re-Active.

Kamau's visit is sponsored by the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights, President's Office, Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies, the Center for the Humanities, and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Grinnell College welcomes the participation of people with disabilities. The Harris Center Cinema is equipped with an induction hearing loop system, which enables individuals with hearing aids set to T-Coil to hear the program. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations.

The College welcomes the presence of minors at all age-appropriate public events and for informal visits, with the understanding that a parent, legal guardian, or other responsible adult assumes full responsibility for their child’s safety and behavior during such visits or events. In these cases, the College expects that an adult responsible for the visiting child takes measures to ensure the child’s safety and sees that the child complies with directions of College personnel. Grinnell College is not responsible for supervision of minors on campus. The program may contain strong language and content not suitable for all audiences.

Pulitzer Prize-winning Novelist Junot Diaz Visits Campus

Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Junot Diaz will read from his work at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101. Diaz also will lead a roundtable discussion about writing fiction at 4 p.m. in Rosenfield Center Room 209. Both events are free and open to the public.

Diaz is fiction editor of the Boston Review and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Diaz's work, which often focuses on immigration and feelings of displacement, is particularly salient amidst current debates around immigration. Former President Obama said in an interview with The New York Times that his work speaks "to a very particular contemporary immigration experience," with stories of people who are "steeped with this sense of being an outsider, longing to get in, not sure what you're giving up." 

Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey, Diaz writes prolific stories of the Caribbean diaspora, American assimilation, and negotiation of identity. His novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, tells the story of three generations of a family living in the Dominican Republic and the United States. It won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Diaz also is the author of critically acclaimed Drown and most recently, the short story collection This Is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist. In 2012, he was awarded the prestigious MacArthur “Genius" Fellowship. He has received the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship, among others.

Sponsoring this event are the Student Organization of Latinxs; the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights; the Office of Diversity and Inclusion; Intercultural Student Affairs; Writers@Grinnell; Student Activities; and the Student Government Association.

Grinnell College welcomes the participation of people with disabilities. Rooms 101 and 209 are equipped with induction hearing loop systems, which enables individuals with hearing aids set to T-Coil to hear the program. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations.

The College welcomes the presence of minors at all age-appropriate public events and for informal visits, with the understanding that a parent, legal guardian, or other responsible adult assumes full responsibility for their child’s safety and behavior during such visits or events. In these cases the College expects that an adult responsible for the visiting child takes measures to ensure the child’s safety and sees that the child complies with directions of college personnel. Grinnell College is not responsible for supervision of minors on campus.

In Defense of Pop Culture

Lisa Doris Alexander ’97 presents “In Defense of Pop Culture: What Film, Television and Sports Tell Us about Race Relations in the United States” in a free, public event at 11 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 17, in Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101.

Alexander, associate professor of African American studies at Wayne State University, will discuss the current state of race in popular culture in three cases, including:

  • white-washing and gender-bending,
  • Shonda Rhime’s portrayal of black women on her television shows (Scandal), and
  • the implications of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protests against racial injustice.

She argues that while pop culture is often not seen as “scholarly,” because these movies and television shows are created by human beings, their implicit and and explicit biases may be seen in their work and should be investigated.

Alexander graduated from Grinnell with a bachelor’s degree in political science with a concentration in Afro-American studies. She went on to receive her master’s in Afro-American studies from the University of California–Los Angeles, and a doctorate from Bowling Green State University in American culture studies, specializing in critical studies in film, media, and culture.

Cover of When Baseball  Isn't White, Straight and Male: The media and difference in the national pasttimeShe has published a book, When Baseball Wasn’t White Straight and Male: The Media and Difference in the National Pastime, and numerous articles and book reviews. She is also the recipient of several fellowships and grants from institutions including the Peter Rollins Travel Grant from the American Culture Association and a Lausanne Dissertation Fellowship from Willamette University.

The American Studies department, the Alumni in the Classroom program and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion are sponsoring Alexander’s talk.

Grinnell College welcomes the participation of people with disabilities. You can request accommodations from Conference Operations.

Important: The College welcomes the presence of minors at all age-appropriate public events and for informal visits, with the understanding that a parent, legal guardian, or other responsible adult assumes full responsibility for their child’s safety and behavior during such visits or events. In these cases the College expects that an adult responsible for the visiting child takes measures to ensure the child’s safety and sees that the child complies with directions of College personnel. Grinnell College is not responsible for supervision of minors on campus.

Bridging Scholarship and Activism

BlainGrinnell College's celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day will feature a speech on Tuesday, Jan. 26, by University of Iowa Assistant Professor of History Keisha N. Blain.

Although Jan. 18 was the King Holiday, the College is celebrating it on Jan. 26, the day after classes begin for the 2016 spring semester.

Blain's speech, titled "Bridging Scholarship and Activism: Reflections on the #Charlestonsyllabus," will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Joe Rosenfield '25 Center Room 101. Immediately following the talk, Blain will join attendees in a buffet dinner. Both the speech and dinner are free and open to the public.

"Dr. Blain is a rising academic whose work demonstrates how scholarship and activism for social change can and must be connected," said Professor of History Sarah Purcell, who also directs the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights

"She will speak about connections in her own work on African American history," Purcell added, "and her work to educate the public about historical context necessary for understanding the Charleston shootings and continuing to combat white supremacy. Anyone with an interest in racial justice, current affairs, or history should not miss this talk."

Blain is one of the co-developers #Charlestonsyllabus, a Twitter movement and crowdsourced list of reading recommendations relating to the history of racial violence in the United States. It was created in response to the racially motivated shooting that took place in June 2015 during a Bible study class in a church in Charleston, South Carolina. The reading list has drawn international media attention from news outlets such as PBS, BBC, NPR, The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times.

Blain also is a co-editor of "Charleston Syllabus: Readings on Race, Racism and Racial Violence," forthcoming later this year from the University of Georgia Press. In addition, she is completing her first solo-authored book, "Contesting the Global Color Line: Black Women, Nationalist Politics, and Internationalism," which is forthcoming from the University of Pennsylvania Press.

Grinnell College's Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights is sponsoring Blain's speech and the buffet dinner. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is co-sponsoring the events.

Up From the Roots

Musicians Randye Jones of Grinnell College and Damani Phillips of the University of Iowa will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by sharing the rich history of the music of the African-American tradition.

The 13th Amendment, which officially abolished slavery in America, was ratified by the states on Dec. 6, 1865, eight months after the Civil War ended.

To mark this milestone, Jones and Phillips will present a free public lecture, "Up From the Roots," and a musical performance at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4, in Herrick Chapel.

They will explore the development of music from the end of the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement, including spirituals, gospel, jazz, blues, and rhythm and blues.

The Office of Intercultural Affairs and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion are sponsoring the event.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.

Randye Jones

Randye JonesJones, a soprano and researcher, is a doctoral student in vocal literature at the University of Iowa. She also serves as media room supervisor in Burling Library at Grinnell College.

Jones has gained recognition for her writings on African-American vocalists and composers, and as a performer and lecturer through her projects, "The Art of the Negro Spiritual, Afrocentric Voices in Classical Music," and the recently published "The Spirituals Database."

She regularly presents lecture-recitals and concerts, and serves as a panelist at events such as the Research, Education, Activism, and Performance (REAP) National Conference on Spirituals, African American Art Song Alliance Conference, and the National Association of Negro Musicians conference.  

Damani Phillips

Damani PhillipsPhillips, formerly on the music faculty at Grinnell College, is an assistant professor of jazz studies and African-American studies at the University of Iowa.

An active saxophone player, pedagogue, and composer, Phillips has taught and performed throughout the United States, England, and Japan, and is actively sought as a guest artist, clinician and adjudicator. Phillips has performed with artists/groups such as Lewis Nash, Christian McBride, the touring Dave Matthews cover band "Crush," and many others. He has released five albums of his own, including his most recent recording project, "Duality," a double album featuring a unique synergy between straight-ahead jazz and hip hop music.

Campus Climate Solidarity—Call to Action

In recent weeks, many historically underrepresented students have been deeply affected by events highlighting racism and inequity occurring across the country at various colleges and universities. In this timely moment, we have an opportunity to be proactive about the campus climate at Grinnell College and take time come together in solidarity towards long-term change in a sustainable way.

Concerned students, staff, and faculty have gathered and have co-created a list of recommendations that highlight key areas of campus life—inside and outside the classroom—that should remain in our collective consciousness and be addressed in order for sustainable change towards a more inclusive environment for all at Grinnell College. The following is a small part of an ongoing conversation, understanding not only that we must all work collectively across all levels of the college both interpersonally and structurally, but also that this is an ongoing commitment that we are invested in order to live out the college’s mission of social justice.

President Kington, Dean Latham, and the College administration strongly support the creation of a more inclusive and equitable campus climate. College staff are currently reviewing the proposed steps in detail and the plan is likely to include many of the items listed here. We will post progress updates on a quarterly basis, and will offer clear explanations of the status of recommendations to indicate which may be immediately accomplished, which will require further discussion and planning, and which may be impossible for regulatory or other reasons.

Policy Review and Implementation

  • Education to develop clarity around Bias-Motivated Incident Protocols
  • Overall improvement of our data collection and ongoing assessment of diversity and inclusion initiatives
  • Review of work-study regulations and the implications on students coming from a lower SES
  • Publish the results of reviews and consultant visits
  • Implement a class-free day of programming for faculty, staff, and students to discuss social identities, power, and privilege
  • Divestment from for-profit prisons

Curricular Recommendations

  • Time devoted in every tutorial class to discussing –isms in contemporary society
  • Additional curricular offerings that directly address –isms in contemporary society
  • Creation of African-American Studies Major and Concentration

Co-Curricular Recommendations

  • Raising awareness around contemporary issues of Indigenous Peoples
  • Programming around knowing your rights when faced with discrimination
  • Portion of the Innovation Fund dedicated to projects focused on Diversity and Inclusion
  • Student Advisors in the Residence Halls expanding their programming to include diversity and inclusion dialogue
  • Bringing in more speakers of color through the Rosenfield, Wilson, Departmental programs (also curricular)
  • Continuing to raise awareness on Title IX, Race-Related issues, individually and their intersectionality
  • Provide funding for opportunities to connect to schools, regional and national organizations who are involved in diversity and inclusion work full-time

City of Grinnell-Grinnell College Relations

  • Partnership with City Officials to develop protocols around responses to bias-motivated incidents that occur in the city of Grinnell
  • Create community relations and mentor programs to facilitate increased meaningful connection between the college and the City of Grinnell
  • Partner with Grinnell Police Department to educate around issues of bias related to students

Training and Development Opportunities

  • Ongoing and regular diversity and inclusion training for staff, faculty, and students that address the curricular and co-curricular experience
  • Expanding diversity and inclusion programs during and beyond New Student Orientation for all students
  • Fall and Spring semester diversity and inclusion training for student leaders and student groups that includes how to have hard conversations, implicit bias, microaggressions, privilege, and power
  • Address the cultural appropriation in menu nomenclature and theme nights in the dining hall
  • Providing additional information and context to our international students of color about the history of U.S. racism and training on how to navigate their identities in that space

Recruitment and Retention Strategies

  • Increase recruitment of faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds
  • Increase recruitment of students from diverse backgrounds
  • Increase retention efforts for students, staff, and faculty of color, including exit interviews for underrepresented staff, faculty, and students who leave
  • Departmental review to examine successes and failures at retaining underrepresented faculty and staff
  • Increase the number of shuttles to cities across the state (Des Moines, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids)
  • Provide a concerted effort to ensure that students, staff, and faculty have access to mental health providers from diverse backgrounds who are trained to work with diverse populations

Alumni Connections

  • Developing a focused mentoring program for alumni and students
  • Establishing an intercultural alumni weekend so that current students can network with underrepresented alumni

Physical Spaces

  • Decorating spaces (art, murals, etc.) that reflect the various identities on our campus