I spent some time with, "Whose Diversity?" Organizers Idalia Robles De León and Tori Hong. They explained a shocking history of intolerance at the University of Minnesota. The "Who's Diversity?" collective uses testimony to provide a safe space for communities feeling threatened by the prejudice of administrators, classmates and colleagues. In sharing their experiences they have created a space of recognition for one another and thus healing. One testimony describes the crassness of fellow classmates:
"When can we stop talking about black people's feelings" -White classmate after 2 sessions on racial disparities in medical careThey describe the situation in detail in this ChipsterLife exclusive podcast interview. Whose Diversity? At the University of Minnesota by ChipsterLife
The collective largely grew out of a protest movement objecting to the removal of murals that were made by student organizations devoted to representing communities of color and other underrepresented communities. In their own words:
"The Whose Diversity? Collective is ready to question the University’s discourse of “success” and “progress” for our campus, a notion that stifles discussion, prevents growth, and disregards how the people from these communities endure exclusion on campus. Therefore, we are calling upon the University of Minnesota administration to uphold its commitment to diversity, and adhere to the demands presented by students who are representative of the communities that embody “diversity.”We join in solidarity with other higher education student movements happening across the country that challenge mainstream narratives of diversity, such as: #BBUM (Being Black at U Michigan), #ITooAmHarvard, and the Higher Education Justice Movement in Minnesota."The collective announced their presence by protesting the opening of a student center that had taken the place of the murals, the grand opening of the Coffman building. On April 29th activist Tori Hong noted on her Facebook page that she,"got an email from the University of Minnesota's Office of Student Conduct because I engaged in "disruptive behavior" during the ribbon cutting ceremony of the second floor of Coffman. They want to punish me for it. So this is what democracy looks like? Because protests and other such actions have been a tool for historically marginalized communities to have their voices be raised and centered. It has been a tool to challenge oppression. And this is the response that I get because I chose to critique the U and share a different narrative? A narrative in which the University engaged in the white-washing and policing of historically marginalized groups? A narrative in which the U revoked money, staff and the guaranteed spaces of the student cultural centers? A narrative that the U is trying so hard to erase?"
The collective held their first panel discussion. You can check it out below along with observing the collecting testimonies in the various formats distributed.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/whosediversitymnTwitter: https://twitter.com/WhoseDivInstagram: http://instagram.com/whosediversitymnTumblr: http://whosediversitymn.tumblr.comFinally, the collective has made a list of demands that they feel will begin remedy the situation at the University of Minnesota. They can can be found here.
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on March 26, 2015
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