Month: March 2018


Diversity Program of the Month
Affirmations & Artistry

School: University of California, San Diego Region: PACURH
Person in charge: Alyssa Dawson, Kyra A. Green & Yordanos Tesfai Nominator: Kyra Green

Target Population: 500 Time Needed to Organize: 2.5 mos
Number of People in Attendance: 20 Date(s) of Program: 3.5.2018; 8:30-10 PM
Number of People Needed to Organize: 3 Cost of Program: $178.31
On-Campus Population: 10700 Chapter Size: 47

Origin of Program:

Affirmations and Artistry was created to highlight the significance of Women’s Herstory Month and to especially honor women and femme folks of color. [Femme is a term that refers to individuals whose gender identity or gender expression aligns with their definitions of effeminacy.] Given that historically feminist movements and celebrations center the experiences and contributions of White individuals, we felt a program was needed to honor, center, and affirm folks of color and their experiences with gender or otherwise. We decided to honor artistic representations of these experiences given that historically artistry has important mechanism for the survival of people of color: from storytelling to cultural preservation, artistry has important ties to the affirmation of the lives of people of color. We desired a space that provided artistic contributions from women and femmes of color while simultaneously allowing participants the time and space to contribute their art. Ultimately, the impetus of the program was to combine these two important facts: women and femmes of color being historically erased from narratives of Women’s Herstory Month and artistry as important method of survival, in a way that honored legacies and stories from the woman and femme of color community.

Word Count: 197

Please give a short description of the program:

As previously explained, ‘Affirmations & Artistry’ centered art as memory-preservation and storytelling from women and femmes of color. To bring from women and femmes of color into the space immediately we played throughout the program a compilation of poetry performances from women and femmes of color. These poetry recitations covered a wide variety of experiences: from abuse and love to body image and racism. This wide array of experiences and identities were important to bring into the space to not only ground the program in its purpose —uplifting and affirming the narratives of women and femmes of color— but also to remind participants that women and femmes of color have experiences, stories, and knowledge to share outside of their race and gender, but in all aspects of their lives; women and femmes of color are indeed multi-faceted individuals with vibrant important stories and narratives. Outside of a brief welcome and the poetry playing, the program was free-flowing with a variety of activities for participants to engage with the program’s mission. For example, we wanted participants to have the opportunity to create, share, honor, and be affirmed in their stories and truths. So, to that end, we had paper and art supplied for drawing and coloring so that participants had the opportunity to represent themselves in whichever ways they felt best. This was also a significant activity, because it was crucial to our belief that all experiences are unique and important—we wanted participants to feel welcomed in the idea that their stories were important. We also wanted to affirm the lives, rights, and stories of women and femmes of color. To that end, we had an affirmation wall and several post it note pads so that participants could jot down words of affirmations to their community members and publicly share them on the wall. Many participants did so, and we left the wall in place after the program and other people who were not at the program have since reported that seeing the affirmation wall in a public place made them happy. We also wanted to create a space that also provided nourishment and wellness, two things denied to many women and femmes of color. We had special cookies baked for the program as well as purchased plenty of tea and hot chocolate. We also had supplies—socks and rice—for participants to create stress balls. All of these activities were crucial to our vision.

Word Count: 400

Goals of the program:

The purpose of the program was to provide a space to build community in celebration of Women’s Herstory Month. We aimed to provide a space for all people, but especially women and femmes of color to be in community with one another, destress together with art, affirm one another, and create and celebrate the poetic and artistic creations of other women and femme identifying people of color. We worked to give people the opportunity to affirm resistance as performed by women and femmes of color through a variety of activities that celebrate self-care, self-awareness, and artistic expressions of humanity, resistance, and being. Additionally, the program provided an opportunity to publicly, campus-widely, center women and femmes of color in dialogue around Women’s Herstory Month, inclusion and diverse narratives. Our program was to make a space for marginalized people to take ownership and be loud, visible members of our larger community. Ultimately, we sought to create a space of and for communal affirmation and appreciation during a month that often negates ways in which women and femmes of color practice resistance, survival, and creation. The program was able to meet these goals via thoughtful activities, ambiance setting, and provision of nourishment.

Word Count: 200

Positive and lasting effects of the program:

There were large- and smaller-scale impacts of this program. As previously mentioned, one of the larger scale impacts that is both positive and lasting is the public declaration of a need to celebrate the experiences of women and femmes of color; simply planning, publicizing and holding the program sent an important message to the UCSD and feminist communities about shifting narratives of mattering with narratives. This is also a large, positive and impactful shift in university resources to a historically and predominantly underserved community: women and femme folks of color. On a more individual or smaller scale level, our program had the impactful effect of reminding the campus community, whether they attended the program or not, the women and femmes of color have important stories to share and they should be received and respected. For participants, the positive and lasting effect lies in being in a space that centers narratives from women and femmes of color given that this community is often unheard and unacknowledged in mainstream conversations; participants had an opportunity to focus specifically on this community and in the process shift their lenses. Additionally, as previously mentioned, the Affirmation Wall has remained up in the community.

Word Count: 198

Short evaluation of the program:

We were very pleased with the program overall given that we were able to orchestrate all of our activities as planned. Some of the small issues we noticed arose in the needs of participants and were mostly easily remedied. For example, we realized that our room was not large enough to accommodate the number of participants and accompanying activity they brought. This was not an issue we could remedy at the time, but it certainly impacted the evening as there were at times not enough for room for everyone to sit and color comfortably. Another small issue that we were able to remedy was in the volume of our poetry playlist. Luckily, participants were talking amongst each other and with us as facilitators, so we could easily adjust the volume of the poetry recordings. At the event, we gauged that participants were building community because there were a variety of conversations taking place at once. We also gauged that participants were actively engaging with the artistry from women and femmes of color, especially the poetry collection we were screening and that participants were finding ways to share their own narratives simultaneously because the art stations were busy throughout the program.

Word Count: 200

How could this program be adapted to other campuses?

Given the wide array of conversations and changes this program prompted us to explore around our institution and our understandings of inclusion therein, we feel this program should be adapted at other campuses so that other students have the opportunity to learn and grow in the same ways that we did throughout planning, facilitating, and participating with this program. One essential piece of advice would be to be extremely selective when choosing a venue: we significantly underestimated our turnout and so the room we reserved was too small. Having a larger room may have diminished the immediate feeling of inter-connectedness, but also may have given participants more space to settle comfortably and engage with the art. We would also recommend advertising widely because any student can benefit from this program and the critical thinking and celebration it encourages, whether a student identifies within the community or not. We also recommend wide advertising given that the richness of the conversation only grows with more voices being included and uplifted.

Word Count: 168

Date of entry into database: 2018-04-08 02:28:03

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