A time to honor and recognize diversity
February is Black History Month and a time to honor people of color. Mialisa Wright, a support services supervisor at Kirkwood Community College, called it a “celebration of learning about what amazing artists and politicians who created what we use every day.”
Although this month is celebrated across the United States, it is celebrated differently in every state. Wright said, “I’ve discovered here in Iowa, as somebody who’s from Illinois, the practice of Black History Month is not the same from my end. When I was in school it truly was a celebration whether it was having a play showing about amazing the history of it or the great people like Shirley Chisholm, who was the first black woman to run for president, to Barack Obama.”
To bring some of that celebration to Kirkwood, Wright worked with Career Services Coordinator Lexi Fields and Orientation Coordinator Shelley Milks to organize events throughout the month to inform students about Black history and culture.
Some of these events included a Black history kickoff event, a forum on bias and a Humanize My Hoodie movie screening. Fields said that these events were picked because, “We have a couple of things that we’ve definitely wanted to do like the documentary screening with Humanize My Hoodie. Last year they came with an exhibit about the Humanize My Hoodie movement. They filmed a documentary since their last visit, so they have new information to share.”
Aside from just honoring the rich history of people of color, February is also a time to embrace diversity. Diversity can mean a lot of different things ranging from social class to color. Milks said that to her “it is learning and respecting and honoring people’s differences.”
This is a goal that many schools, cities and states across the nation are working to achieve. Kirkwood alumnus and Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague said, “I think the intentions of the government and the intentions of policies at almost every facet of our community really does have knowledge on what it means to be equitable and what it means to be intentional on having diversity a part of your team but there have been challenges.”
Teague also said, “I think that students are definitely our future, they are our future policymakers, they are our future staff, our future business owners, and their action are saving our world. So, I think really understanding that change of being intentional and having diverse adversity really does start with you.”
Teague said he looks forward to the day when diversity is not part of everyday conversation. “It is my hope that one day the conversation that we’re having about diversity is one that doesn’t even exist. ‘What is diversity? What does that word mean?’ It will be so foreign because our community will look diverse and it will be like something we don’t even notice,” he said.