why historically black colleges?
I just noticed that there is going to be another Equality Ride and the list of the proposed colleges to be visited are historically Black colleges, such as Spelman and Morehouse.
I don't understand why these particular colleges are on the ER's visiting list, because as far as I understand, these colleges do not expel students for being gay, unlike others.
Here is something from Spelman's handbook, which identifies what is an inappropriate conduct:
It looks precisely that Spelman discourages antigay discrimination on its campus, thus it is a gay friendly college, so why it is important for Equality Ride to visit them? I can definitely understand why it is important to visit Liberty University, but I can't understand what's the deal with historically Black colleges, like Spelman and Morehouse?
Can somebody, please, explain it to me.
I attended a historically black college here in Greensboro for nursing school. There is a real problem with homesexuality on these campuses. I talked with some of my friends at this school and they told me stories about how taboo being gay is in the African American community. I have African American gay and lesbian friends that also tell me how shunned many gay people are in these families.I have seen first hand that my black gay friends have a more difficult time with their families than my white friends. HIV is much higher in these universities because many black gay men hide their homesexuality. There was a book that came out called "On the Down Low" about black gay men that have girlfriends but also have boyfriends on the side, they then transmit HIV to these women. For gay men at these schools it is not just taboo to be gay but also very dangerous. Before attending this school I had no idea that this was such a problem in the black community. This is a large school that tried to get a LGBT clubs but they were met with such opposition from other kids on campus. I have even heard a story on NPR on this very subject.
I am not black so I can only tell you what my experience has been and what friends have told me. I think soulforce coming to these schools is much needed and a great idea!
Homosexuality is a very taboo subject in the black community. AIDS was at one time but now some black churches have seen the light and are educating their congregations about the epidemic which affects African-Americans at a much higher rate. Denial is a part of the problem, I think.
While I have never attended a historically black college, if I came out as a transgender and crossdresser I won't feel safe. My reason is that black males have suffered tremendously under the weight of oppresion. There would be the belief that I'm letting the African-American man down and I'm not being a real 'man', whatever that means.
I think it's a good idea for Soulforce to visit these campuses. I think they will be surprised by some things.
Jarrett responds to your question
Hi Inca: I copied your post and sent it to Jarrett, one of the co directors of the Equality Ride, asking him if he could respond. Here's his reply. kara
We have chosen to visit Spelman College as part of the 2008 Equality Ride for a variety of reasons. It should be noted, though, that there will be no direct action or civil disobedience there or at Morehouse College. Our plan is to peaceably engage our peers and focus on interaction and dialogue while in Atlanta. In addition to time on campus per the request of students, this may even happen within the context of a community service project. Hopefully the following ideas will clearly communicate our rationale.
First, in response to your post, I want to point out that simply discouraging harassment and discrimination does not make a school "gay-friendly" or a safe space for LGBT people and their allies. Achieving full inclusion and acceptance requires active affirmation and a bit more intention. Very often, there is a distinct chasm between policy and culture. I, for example, attended a private university in a progressive area that had very progressive policies, a school where the administration sanctioned a queer alliance. However, the fact is that not every student came from a family or town where those same values and practices were honored. Despite codified equality, my alma mater remains just as oppressive and unsafe as many of schools the Equality Ride has visited.
Our last stop this year is Simmons College of Kentucky, which, like Spelman, is also a faith-based historically black college. Simmons has one of the worst policies I have ever seen. Beyond condemning sexual and gender diversity, it goes on to express that families without a mother and a father figure are broken semblances of what a real family is. That rhetoric was not born of pen and paper or in a student handbook. It comes from history and doctrine, from the abuse of power coupled with an unfortunately prevalent ignorance. And, these sentiments are not unique to Simmons College. I can guarantee that we will find them on every campus we visit, including Spelman. Yes, it will be in varying degrees and manifestations, but that does not lessen our responsibility to go and work towards understanding.
Spelman College was founded as a Baptist seminary for women. As such, conservative dogma continues to have a strong influence on the campus and the mindsets of many in the student body. No institution or demographic is immune from prejudice. Therefore, conversations about diversity and justice cannot happen enough, for there is always progress to be made. This is true even in the absence of outright intolerance.
Conversely, some at Spelman have taken great strides to ensure that everyone feels welcome, and that is something we openly acknowledge at Soulforce Q. This year, we want to honor their efforts by adding to them. Much like Morehouse, Spelman has a legacy of being at the forefront of social change. In fact, ten years ago Mother Jones Magazine ranked it second on the top-ten list of activist schools. Indeed, their merit as a leader factored into our selection process. If the Equality Ride is to continue going where there is even a modicum of need, we will certainly find ourselves at other historically black establishments. Now is the time to lay the groundwork for those ventures, to build awareness, to find allies, and to set a precedent.
The Equality Ride began as a project that went to the worst of places and addressed the worst of policies. After two years, though, we have seen both the need to evolve and the value in doing so. No longer is our view of injustice so myopic that we would only go to a school where there is explicit discrimination. Moreover, at times, the most growth we see is within communities that have already taken forward steps. Last year we visited Calvin College, a school that does not have a policy and does have openly gay students. However, the impact of our conversations there was consistent with the rest of the route and just as many lives were changed. Calvin now has an active GSA and recently graduated its first openly transgender student.
My dream is that Spelman College will soon become a place where the diverse identities of all its students are uplifted not just protected. My dream is that Spelman College will one day celebrate Audre Lorde not only as a black woman who revolutionized feminism, but also as a proud lesbian who struggled against a homophobic society. My dream is that Spelman College will inspire other schools founded in the same traditions to erase their policies and champion those on the margins.
Our invitation to Spelman to host the Equality Ride called on the inclusive vision upon which it was founded. Students are beginning to answer that call with optimism and enthusiasm, and we have every faith that faculty and administration will follow, leading to a productive day on October 10, 2008.
2008 Equality Ride
Thank you very much for your responses. The one done by Jarrett was very educational. I became aware of the issues that I wasn't before.
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