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A Level Playing Field?

Sociology professor Matthew Hughey Matthew Hughey of the University of Connecticut will deliver a lecture on Monday, Nov. 30, about how media coverage of athletics perpetuates the myth of "black brawn vs. white brains."

The free, public lecture, titled "A Level Playing Field? Zombie Theories of Athletics, Genetics and Race in Media," starts at 7:30 p.m. in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101.

Black and white image of Jesse Owens racingHughey will discuss the role the news media play in perpetuating the myth of "black brawn vs. white brains" – that blacks have an inherent biological disposition toward athletic excellence. Despite biological and sociological evidence that debunks this theory, Hughey contends that many still believe in a link between black athleticism and biological determinism. He will argue that while empirically impossible, this thesis is a zombie theory – an idea that just won't die.

The author of several books, Hughey has written extensively about race, including The White Savior Film: Content, Critics and Consumption and  White Bound: Nationalists, Antiracists and the Shared Meanings of Race. He also serves as co-editor of The Obamas and a (Post) Racial America?

National media outlets such as NPR, ABC and CBS frequently call upon Hughey for his sociological expertise. He also is a contributing writer to The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, and the Huffington Post, among others.

Hughey has received numerous honors throughout his career, such as the Distinguished Early Career Award from the American Sociological Association's Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities. Hughey is a member of both the Africana Studies and American Studies departments at the University of Connecticut.

Assistant Professor Casey Oberlin, sociology, is organizing the event. Co-sponsors are the Office of Diversity and Inclusion; the Center for Humanities; the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights; the Instructional Support Committee; the Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies Department; the Department of Sociology; and the Department of Anthropology.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center has accessible parking in the lot to the east. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.

Our School: Film Screening and Panel Discussion

Watch a free public screening of Our School, followed by a panel discussion, at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22, in the Community Room of the Drake Community Library, 930 Park St., Grinnell, Iowa.

This award-winning documentary follows the lives of three Roma (“Gypsy”) children who participate in a project to desegregate the local school in their Transylvanian town in Romania. With parallels to the Little Rock Nine and the history of desegregation in the U.S., this film uncovers an abhorrent civil rights issue in Europe but also provokes recognition of similar, ongoing racial inequities in U.S. education. Shot over four years, this poignant story captures how racism, poverty, language differences, and special education labels work to disenfranchise Roma children from equitable schooling. It is a captivating, human story wrought with humor, beauty, and tragedy.

Snacks will be provided. Film time is 94 minutes, followed by discussion.

The event is sponsored by Grinnell College's Cultural Films Committee and the Department of Education.

 

 

Reducing Political Polarization

Jacob Hess and Phil Neisser Phil Neisser and Jacob Hess, political opposites and co-authors of You're Not as Crazy as I Thought (But You're Still Wrong): Conversations between a Die-Hard Liberal and a Devoted Conservative will host two Iowa caucus-related events Nov. 19 and 20.

Their workshop, "How to Reduce Political Polarization without Compromise," will teach strategies for engaging in more civil and productive political conversations. The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place from 4-6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101.

Neisser and Hess will also give a free public lecture, titled "Using Dialogue as Civic Engagement, On and Off Campus," at 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20, in Rosenfield Center, Room 101. The workshop and lecture cosponsors are the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, the Peace and Conflict Studies Program, President Raynard S. Kington, and the Ombuds Office.

For two years, Neisser, a leftist; and Hess, a conservative; have been engaging in difficult and in-depth conversations about controversial political issues, including sexuality, race, big government, and big business. Working to reduce polarization by both pressing each other and listening to each other, the two compiled highlights of their conversations into their book, You're Not as Crazy as I Thought. The book was featured on the popular public radio show This American Life.

Neisser is a professor of political theory at the State University of New York at Potsdam, where he also serves as the associate dean of Arts and Sciences. A gifted teacher, he received the SUNY Potsdam Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2000. Neisser is also the author of United We Fall: Ending America’s Love Affair with the Political Center, as well as several acclaimed essays in various political science books.

Hess, a psychologist, is research director at Utah Youth Village, a nonprofit for abused children in the Rocky Mountain region. In 2009, he completed his Ph.D. dissertation research on long-term depression treatments. He has written 13 peer-reviewed articles and two books. A teacher of mindfulness-based stress reduction, Hess co-founded All of Life, a nonprofit that educates people about scientific discoveries in brain science and how these findings can be used to help overcome mental and emotional challenges.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. You can make accommodation requests to Conference Operations and Events.

The Folklore of the Freeway: Connectivity, Creativity and Conflict in the Age of Highway Construction

Eric AvilaEric Avila, professor of history, Chicano studies, and urban planning at UCLA, will present "The Folklore of the Freeway: Connectivity, Creativity and Conflict in the Age of Highway Construction" at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, November 11 in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center Room 101.

Avila currently serves as associate dean for equity, diversity and inclusion for the Division of Social Sciences. As an urban cultural historian of Los Angeles and the United States in the twentieth century, Avila is author of Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Fear and Fantasy in Suburban Los Angeles and The Folklore of the Freeway: Race and Revolt in the Modernist City.  Currently, he is writing American Cultural History: A Very Short Introduction for Oxford University Press.

He studies the intersections of racial identity, urban space, and cultural representation in twentieth century America. Anyone with an interest in American history, urban studies, race relations, or the relationship between communities and development will be interested in his talk.

For the Center for the Humanities series on “Sites of Creativity: Streets, Salons, Studios, and Schools", he will talk about communities of color and their resistance to the building of highways in this way mapping the creative strategies devised by urban communities to document and protest the damage that highways wrought.

 

Preview “Happy Birthday Marsha!” with Writers/Directors

Happy Birthday, Marsha “Happy Birthday, Marsha!” is a forthcoming film about legendary transgender artist and activist, Marsha “Pay it No Mind” Johnson and her life in the hours before the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City.

Join us for a discussion and preview screening of clips of the film with the writers and directors, Reina Gossett and Sasha Wortzel, at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10, in Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101.

The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Sponsors include Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Department of History, the Center for the Humanities, and the Stonewall Resource Center.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center has accessible parking in the lot to the east. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.

Witness for Peace: Alfredo Lopez

Alfredo Lopez will discuss his work with the grassroots La Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña/The Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH) at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9, in Alumni Recitation Hall Auditorium, Room 302.

OFRANEH, which has existed since the 1970s, is dedicated to defending the rights of Garifuna peoples in northern Honduras, who have been subject to displacement from their land and acts of violence.

His presentation will focus on militarization and violence in Garifuna communities, including:

  • the dynamics of racism and state violence against Garifuna communities, and
  • displacement tied to tourism.

He will also highlight the connections to U.S. policies like funding of the Honduran police and military, the ways that OFRANEH is organizing to protect Garifuna rights, and what people in the U.S. can do to support Garifuna rights and peace in Garifuna territories. 

The free public event is sponsored by the Peace and Conflict Studies Program and the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. ARH is wheelchair accessible and has an elevator at the south end of the building that makes it easy to reach the auditorium and accessible restrooms on the third floor. Outside entrances with automatic door operators are located on the southeast and southwest sides of ARH. Several accessible parking spaces are available along Park Street. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.

An Evening with Myron Rolle

Myron Rolle will present a free, public talk at 7 p.m. Saturday, October 3, in the Alumni Recitation Hall Auditorium (Room 302).

Rolle is a neurosurgeon, football all-American, Rhodes scholar, NFL draftee, and humanitarian.

Sponsored by: Diversity and Inclusion, Donald L. Wilson Program, Pioneer Diversity Council, Intercultural Affairs, and Student Athletes Leading Social Change.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Accommodation requests may be made to the event sponsors or Conference Operations and Events.

Yesenia Ayala ’18 honored by White House

The White House recently recognized Yesenia Ayala ’18 for her courage and contributions to the Latino community in Iowa. She and 10 other young women were selected from more than 1,000 nominees as Champions of Change for empowering and inspiring members of their communities.

Ayala said later that the experience helped her go beyond her comfort zone to advocate for the community she loves and that needs support.

“Through my personal experience,” she added, “I was able to bring awareness to not only the local, state, but national community of the importance of mentoring and supporting students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, and how we can all come together as one to make the movement work.”

As a service learning work-study student at Grinnell, Ayala works for Al Exito — a nonprofit group that empowers Latino youth in nine Iowa cities. She coordinates programming and mentoring for middle and high school Latino students, facilitates family programming and events, and engages other Grinnell students in encouraging Latino students to stay in school and plan for college.

Ayala also has designed and led workshops to inform Latino youth and their parents about the U.S. education system, financial aid, essay writing, and the college applications process. These activities promote more family involvement at school, greater civic engagement, and an increase in the likelihood that young Latinos will graduate from high school and pursue higher education.

A native of Los Angeles, Ayala is majoring in sociology and Spanish with a concentration in Latin American studies. She plans to pursue a law degree in civil rights upon graduation.

This fall, she continues to work with Al Exito to develop ways to incorporate teachers into the program, which Ayala hopes will expand statewide.  

Ayala’s Inspiration

Ayala talking with Auñón (who is in a NASA suit) at a gathering At a ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, Ayala joined other Champions of Change in a panel discussion moderated by MTV video blogger Francesca Ramsey. Ramsey noted that it’s often tough to get Latino students and their families comfortable with the college application process when it’s a completely new experience for them. Then she asked Ayala: “What have you done as a leader to overcome some of those fears from students and parents that you’ve been working with?”

Ayala said she was inspired to do the work she is doing because she is a first-generation Latina college student who had a difficult journey from high school to college. She often shares her story at Al Exito events to inspire others.

“I was working fulltime at McDonald’s as a manager while in high school, I was going to high school in a very low-income community, and I was striving to get A’s,” she said. “I was also taking the responsibility and the role of helping my parents raise my siblings.”

Thanks to the encouragement of a high school English teacher, Ayala applied for a Posse Foundation scholarship, as did more than 2,100 students in LA. She was one of 112 selected, winning admission to Grinnell, where she receives a full-tuition scholarship and additional financial aid.

“In most Latino families and communities,” Ayala said, “it’s very difficult for parents to let their children aspire for higher education, because they come from a community where they don’t know anything about the U.S. education system. … So every time we conduct a workshop, it’s our opportunity to let our parents know, our community know, our students know that it may be difficult sometimes to break those boundaries, those cultural oppositions, but it’s okay to do it.  If you don’t take a risk, you never know how far you can go.”

50 years of International Work to Eliminate Racial Discrimination

DDavid Keaneavid Keane, senior lecturer in law at London's Middlesex University, will lecture on "Fifty Years of the International Convention to End All Forms of Racial Discrimination." 

ICERD was the first international human rights treaty, and Keane's lecture will assess its 50 years of enforcement efforts in the context of post-colonialism.

Keane will speak 7–8:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 21, in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101. A reception will follow the talk.

His talk is sponsored by the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights and the Center for Careers, Life, and Service, in collaboration with the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights. 

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center has accessible parking in the lot to the east. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations.

David Keane

David Keane is senior lecturer in Law at Middlesex University. He holds a bachelor's from University College Cork, and a master's and doctorate from the Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland, Galway, where he was awarded a Government of Ireland scholarship for his doctoral studies.

Keane's research focuses on international human rights and minority rights law. His book Caste-based Discrimination in International Human Rights Law won the Hart Book Prize for early career scholars, and has been cited by the U.K. Supreme Court in its very first judgment. He is also involved in a range of training, advocacy and advice on human rights issues. 

Asking Thoughtful Questions

Since Anna-Lisa Bowans ’12 graduated from Grinnell, she:

  • spent a year in Bangalore, India, on a social enterprise fellowship
  • worked for a for-profit, social enterprise company in Berkeley, Calif., and
  • recently moved into the tech industry

“The biggest skills that I got out of going to Grinnell were communication skills — verbal and written — and being able to ask really intelligent and thoughtful questions,” Bowans says. She now works for Localytics, a Boston-based company that helps developers of mobile and web apps.

Bowans’ role is to work with start-up and growth customers in a position that did not exist prior to her hiring. She’s excited to be working in an app-focused company that is “on the cutting edge, and very much a thought leader in the space,” she says.

“Every assignment I had at Grinnell was about critical thinking and asking questions,” Bowans says. “That has been key for me in my job. The skills that I got from Grinnell were not necessarily ones I recognized as skills when I graduated. But the longer I spend in the workforce, the more I realize that the training and development I got at Grinnell were invaluable.”

Bowans also credits some of her extracurricular opportunities for her career success, including initiating a Hindi language program and her internship with a local non-profit, the Ahrens Foundation.

“Leadership opportunities at Grinnell gave me confidence and experience in public speaking,” she says, “and in speaking with people of different backgrounds to accomplish my goals. I also learned to prioritize and balance competing demands, and this has been key for being effective in a start-up environment.”

Eventually, Bowans envisions a future that weaves in her different experiences. “I would love to move into social enterprise that works in mobile or in big data,” she says. “That is on the horizon for me.”

Anna-Lisa Bowans ’12 majored in economics with a concentration in global development studies. She works as an account manager for Localytics in its San Francisco office.