by Nikki Stein
Under the leadership of Jasmine Love, the new Director of Multiculturalism and Inclusion, the Diversity Council has been active in a number of recent events on and off campus.
As recently as November, the council held a samosa sale to celebrate Diwali and hosted Natural November.
Organized by junior Letesia Fox, Natural November was held from Nov. 15-19, and established a new way of of celebrating diversity throughout the school.
Fox, the co-head of the African American Awareness Organization (AAAO), created the idea of Natural November after seeing the movie Good Hair by actor Chris Rock. Fox inspired students and faculty to wear their hair in its natural state: without the aid of hairspray, products, and straightening or curling irons. This was a process meant to stimulate everyone to embrace their natural looks, and “know that they are beautiful the way they are,” said Fox.
“We had Natural November to inspire people to feel beautiful. I wanted them to know that there is no such thing as ‘good hair,’ and that everyone can have natural beautiful hair,” continues Fox.
When asked if she would like to continue Natural November, Fox said, “I would love to continue to do this for years to come. I think women need to be comfortable with the skin that they’re in, and I hope that Natural November can be the light for people in finding their self love […] I mainly just wanted the Chadwick community to feel beautiful by just being themselves.”
In light of the recent involvement in diversity, Love feels that the Diversity Council has much potential to grow this year alone.
“I want to say that Diversity Council is evolving,” she said. “We have added Middle School students, and right now we are planning to introduce an ‘Identity Tree’ to the community. You’ll have to wait to find out what it is,” says Love.
Students have also participated in two diversity conferences in November, as well. All students, not purely Council members, were given the opportunity to participate.
At the conference titled “Across Colors,” one speaker talked about the stereotypes that some Americans hold about Islam and Muslims in general, otherwise known as “Islamophobia.”
Love, with the help of the Director of Admissions Milton Mitchell, chose eleven students to participate in the second conference on Nov. 20.
The students were accompanied by eleven faculty members. Faculty and students separated for two different conferences and ultimately collaborated during the combined conference at the end.
In addition to Love, Dean of Faculty Dan Place, science teacher Maya Rao, Middle School Office Manager Elizabeth McLean, Village Office Manager Anna Chavez, Assistant Head of Middle School Summar Aubrey, College Counselor Shawn Rae Passalacqua, and Village teachers Michelle Gallagher, Matthew Risk, Jessica Nelle and Christina Morse attended the conference.
Students from an assortment of grades attended as well, including juniors David Cullum, Sidney Cole, Delfino Gaspar, Letetsia Fox and Rachel Young; sophomores Paige Watson, Asha Kamack, Imani Ingram and Katherine Vargas; and freshmen Ke’Ari Brooks and Anige’r Oriol.
The separate groups worked in workshops and affinity groups for discussion; the adult conference was titled “The People of Color Conference,” and and student conference was titled “The Student Diversity Leadership Conference.”
“Thousands of people come—mainly people of color—so white people have the experience of being in the minority,” Love said. “[The discussion groups are] very intense but educational because you get to talk about things you might not talk about at school, and it is a safe place to just be yourself and explore your identity.”
By design, students get thrown into new situations that might make then feel uncomfortable. At these conferences one learns to step out of his or her shell and feel less awkward in these situations. Also students learn that cultural differences do exist, and it is possible to gain a better understanding of these differences.
When asked about this conference, Love said, “For me there were 3 highlights.First was watching our amazing Chadwick students represent the core values even outside of school, second was singing in the Multicultural Gospel Choir and also hearing Ernest Green of the Little Rock 9 speak.”
Love really enjoys Diversity Council this year. She said, “We’re still finding our sea legs and figuring out exactly what we want to do […] the main reason for Diversity Council is to have a safe place to talk about being different and to have an experience of fitting in. So that is what I like best about it. Everyone belongs.”
Love wants Diversity Council to be a place where everyone feels like they belong. She says, “This is a place where everyone should feel they fit in somewhere. Well, everyone definitely fits in at Diversity Council because that is the point, celebrating differences.”