Flights of Faith

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Affirmed Community in Diversity or the Bulldog Days Speech for 2011

So, readers often tell me I post too little so here's the outline of a speech I gave tonight. Pretty bareboned but you'll get the picture. I was asked to talk about what black life is like @ Yale for our admit weekend. Of course, I had to work in Invisble Man. The speech went really well and random pre-frosh keep coming up to me saying they liked it. Looks like the panicking hours and the fresh cut were worth it. Line 'em up, knock 'em down.

Mosaic – Diversity within Yale, diversity within communities, different part makes us a greater whole, a clear picture that displays our strength.

Invisible Man
Coming into consciousness
South, North, brotherhood, underground
Where is the community?

I didn’t have it when I was growing up.
My family and me
Only black kid in my school
I came and it was like being delivered from that

Cultural Connections introduced me to the diversity and strength of our blackness.
No one’s experience is universal here
Some kids came from schools like mine. Others went to schools in big cities where they were only around blacks and Latinos. Some went to private schools and we’re used to this environment already.
It was amazing meeting blacks from across the Diaspora: the Caribbean, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, and other parts of the world.
Freshmen year my three really good friends were a guy from Detroit, a woman from New Jersey whose parents were from Nigeria, and a Ghanaian women who went to boarding school in the states.

These diverse people join even more diverse groups: You’ve got the mainstream groups that a lot of us belong to but also groups founded from a cultural perspective:

If you like to sing: Shades, ASEMPA, and Yale Gospel Choir
Acting/Performance: Heritage Theater Ensemble, EPGY, WORD any level of experience
Sankofa, a fashion group.
Writing: The 2-1-1, The North Star
Dance: Steppin’ Out, Rhythmic Blue, and Konjo
Political: NAACP, BSAY, CCU
Tutoring/Service: Urban Improvement Corps, Power NOW
Worship: Black Church at Yale , SALT of the Earth

We have world renown professors here that teach extraordinary courses about African-American History from Professor Jonathan Holloway whose intro to Af-Am course always enrolls a lot of students to Professor Hazel Carby’s classes on examining race and gender. In addition, we have professors in Sociology, Psychology, English, and Philosophy, to name a few that are doing exciting interdisciplinary work to make these more traditional departments become reflective of this country and our world. We also have one of the best programs in the country for aspiring scientists and doctors of color called STARS. And if you have something you want to see that isn’t here, you should just contact a college dean or an interested professor. They’ll want to help you get your project started.

And we have a house where all this comes together. It’s a place open to all students just like the other cultural houses but it also serves as a main hub for black life at Yale. At events sponsored by The House, I’ve seen tons of student performances, been to many parties and dances there. I’ve also seen August Wilson, the playwright, Lani Gunier and Juan Williams debate, Jeff Johnson, and Spike Lee.

It’s a place you’ll go to find a community, affirm your identity, challenge yourself with the differences and contradictions in that identity and that community, but in the end it will be a safe space for all this growth and development. It will be a place you can call home.


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