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The following archived articles were produced from the Office of Multicultural Affairs for the Yellow Jacket student newspaper in previous years.  Article titles provide you with the subject matter.  Issues range from ethnic and racial identity to inclusion as a philosophical perspective.  Please scroll down and consider these insights...

Multicultural Counselor - Keisha Barron-Brown

Hello, my name is Keisha Barron-Brown and I am the Multicultural Counselor with the Office of Collegiate Support and Counseling Services. 

I often ask students what services they think this Multicultural Office might offer. The most common response is they're not quite sure; the second thing is they assume that multiculturalism does not apply to them. As a Multicultural Counselor, my first job is to help students understand that multiculturalism relates to all of usstudents, staff and faculty. The sense of exclusion that many students express is usually due to a misunderstanding about what multiculturalism is. For example, people often get stuck on the term and assume that it only applies to race or ethnicity. Of course, multiculturalism deals with much more than these "isms." The office offers awareness education, student advocacy, and empowerment of multiple cultures. Some of the recent topics include women's and men's issues, sexual orientation, international awareness and racial identity, as well as discrimination.

As you can see from this list, everyone is represented by the Multicultural Programs Office. We are all members of some culture, and most of us have experienced some type of disenfranchisement or misunderstanding due to our membership in a particular culture or group. The universality of this experience does not minimize the importance of individual experiences, rather it better equips us to empathize and connect with others who are "different." I hope you will participate in some of our programs, and I would appreciate receiving any comments or suggestions you may have. Although my title emphasizes my role as a program developer, I am also a mental health counselor and serve as the campus ombudsperson for any students who may feel they have been discriminated against. My office is located on the first floor of Sullivan Hall, East room 127, and my phone number is (304)766-3084. You may also email me at lbarron@wvstateu.edu.

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National Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15 to October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month. The intent of this month is to focus attention on the contributions of people of Hispanic heritage to the history of the United States. Hispanic peoples are a growing part of our country's population. Today, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 26 million people in the United States are of Hispanic origin. That's about ten percent of us!

While Hispanic Americans are very much a part of our current culture there seems to be some confusion as to who is included in the ethnic classification 'Hispanic.' There are two ways in which individuals count themselves as Hispanic. Many Hispanic Americans trace their roots to the cultures of the indigenous peoples of the Americas including the Arawaks (Puerto Rico), the Aztecs (Mexico), the Incas (South America), the Maya (Central America), and the Tainos (Cuba). Others trace their roots to the Spanish explorers, who in the 1400s set out to find an easier and less costly way to trade with the Indies. For purposes of the U.S. Census, Hispanic Americans today are identified according to the parts of the world that they or their ancestors came from, including Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Spain, or the nations of Central or South America.

Not only are Hispanic Americans a prominent percentage of America's population, they also play prominent roles in both present and past American History. In an effort to highlight Hispanic contributions in past and current American culture, I would like to present a short 'Who's Who' trivial quiz of Hispanic Americans. The key is located below the quiz, but don't cheat!

FAMOUS HISPANIC AMERICANS QUIZ

a.  Discovered the Mississippi River
b.  World-famous musician, he played the cello
c.   Led fight for a better life for migrant farm workers.
d.   Band leader and actor, was on TV in I Love Lucy.
e.   Spanish soldiers, invaded and took lands from Native Americans
f.    Singer from Miami
g.  Opera singer
h.  Baseball player with the Oakland A's
i.   Talk show host
j.   Folk singer

___ 1. Conquistadors
___ 2. Hernando de Soto
___ 3. Gloria Estefan
___ 4. César Chávez
___ 5. José Carreras
___ 6. Desi Arnaz
___ 7. Geraldo Rivera
___ 8. Joan Baez

 

Hispanic Americans Answer Key: 1. e, 2. a, 3. f, 4. c, 5.g, 6. d, 7. i, 8. j

You may also email me at lbarron@wvstateu.edu

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What do you mean too old?

On our campus we have a large percentage of non-traditional students. Non-traditional is defined as being over the age of 25. Thirty-four percent of our students fall into that age group, with sixteen percent being above the age of 35. With so many of our students being of a mature age, ageism is a commonly voiced concern, though it is usually not discussed using that term.

Ageism is defined as discrimination based on age; this can apply to both younger and older individuals. However with the increasing value that is currently being placed on youth in American society, elder ageism is becoming quite common. People can start experiencing elder ageism as early as thirty, and attitudes tend to deteriorate as the individual becomes older. Ageism can effect an individual's ability to fulfill basic needs such as obtaining or keeping housing, employment, insurance coverage, and health care. This is particularly disturbing, when you consider that the baby boomer generation is now entering their fifties and they are currently the largest age group in America.

Some of these students come to college because they have reached the height of their current career and are looking for a career change or for their own edification. However some come for very different reasons. Some have lost their jobs to younger, lower paid coworkers, or not experience the proper upward mobility as they might have due to their conservative out-moded viewpoint.  And, quite a few of our female students come to college after finding themselves abandoned for not being young enough. These are all examples of ageism. It is my hope that the majority of our students have not had these experiences. However the truth is we are all aging, and ageism is an issue that we may all eventually have to face.  As the saying goes, you only have two options in lifeto grow older or to dieand the second option is not very inviting. While aging is inevitable, ageism is not. If you feel that you or someone you know is the victim of ageism there are laws that have been passed to protect you, here are four resources to help you fight back.

* Collegiate Support and Counseling , 1st floor Sullivan Hall East
* American Association of Retired Persons
* National Council of Senior Citizens, Washington DC
* National Senior Citizens Law Center, Washington DC

You may also email me at lbarron@wvstateu.edu.

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American Indian Heritage Month

 

November is designated as National American Indian Heritage Month. President Clinton enacted this designation in 1995. National American Indian Heritage Month is an effort to recognize the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of this nation. As part of my efforts to honor American Indian Heritage, I would like to begin this article with a short Native American History lesson.

When the Europeans came to America, there were probably 10 million Indians north of present-day Mexico and they had been living here for quite some time. Many anthropologists and archaeologists believe that the first people arrived during the last ice age, approximately 20,000 - 30,000
years ago. These people crossed the land bridge at the Bering Sound, from northeastern Siberia into Alaska.

Although it is believed that the Indians originated in Asia, few if any of them came from India. Christopher Columbus first applied the name "Indian" to them believing that the mainland and islands of America were part of the Indies, in Asia. In response to this mis-identification, the term Native American has come into use in recent years.

When the Europeans started to arrive in the 16th- and 17th-centuries they were met by enthusiastic Native Americans. The Natives regarded their white visitors as something of a marvel, not only for their outlandish dress, beards and winged ships, but also for their wonderful technology.

The Europeans brought with them not only a desire and will to conquer the new continent for all its material richness, but they also brought with them diseases that hit the Indians hard. The Europeans were accustomed to owning land and laid claim to all they found immediatelythey considered the Indians to be nomads with no interest in land ownership. The conflicts led to the Indian Wars, the Indian Removal Act, and other acts instituted by the Europeans in order to accomplish their conquer/seize objectives. Throughout the wars the Indian tribes were at a great disadvantage because of their modest numbers, nomadic life, lack of advanced weapons, and unwillingness to cooperate, even in their own defense. The end of the wars more or less coincided with the end of the 19th century.

I would like not only American Indian History to be recognized, but also their contributions to our nation.  This is a part of their heritage.  Because of the democratic governing approach of some of the American Indian tribes, a significant amount of America's governing policy is based on Native American input. In 1987the U.S. Senate recognized their contributions by passing a resolution stating that the U.S. Constitution was explicitly modeled upon the Iroquois Confederacy. As well as contributing to America's democracy, Native Americans also named over half of the states in the United States.
American Indians have been an integral part of the development and success of our country and deserve recognition for their roles. If you would like more information about Native American Heritage please call me at (304) 766-3084.

You may also email me at lbarron@wvstateu.edu

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Women's History Month

 

March is Women's History Month.  The development of women's history month was the results of a history movement whose goal was to recognize and celebrate women's contributions to American history.  In 1978, the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women initiated a "Women's History Week." Later in 1987, at the request of museums, libraries, and educators across the country, the National Women's History Project petitioned Congress to expand the celebration to the entire month of March.  A National Women's History Month Congressional Resolution was quickly passed with strong bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate.

Some people have asked me why we need a month dedicated to women's history?  The honest answer to that question is that we should not have to.  The truth is that for the most part women's accomplishments, trials and contributions are not included in most high school history classes.  That means fifty-one percent of America's population is not represented in basic American History courses. This under representation results in girls and woman lacking adequate role models and a sense of group history.  As long as this injustice continues there will be a need for Women's History Month.

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Classism...what is it?

 

I have often heard my position as the multicultural counselor refered to the as the "isms counselor." I am not sure if I entirely agree with that title, as I feel that cultures are made up of more than other people's reactions to them. However there is an ism that I would like to discuss today, and it is an ism not often talked about, though it is just as common as racism or sexism. The ism I am referring to is classism. The dictionary defines classism as discriminatory actions or attitudes that are based on differences between social or economic classes. A related concept is class-consciousness, which is defined as an awareness and feeling of identification with of one's own social or economic rank in society. A common stratification for classes is often defined in terms of property ownership and need to work.

The root of classism is based on a myth.  That myth states that everyone, no matter what your background, has the same opportunity to be financially successful if they work hard enough. Furthermore, if someone is not financially successful this is due to individual character flaws such as laziness or lack of drive. This myth is often used as a basis for arguments against poverty subsidies.

These concepts are patently untrue. For example, I think we can all agree that quality education is directly related to future financial earnings. The majority of funding for secondary education comes from property taxes for that school district. If the district is poor, less money is raised to be invested into the school system, and educational opportunities are less. Thus a poor student due to no fault of his own, is less likely to receive a quality education than that of a more well-off student, and is less likely to receive a high paying job. Classism is a multifaceted issue and can not only be addressed by education (though it is a major component).  Classism also deals with several issues such as culture, expectations and the need to sustain privilege for the rich.

So you might be asking yourself 'what does classism have to do with me?'  My response is to challenge youthe next time you hear someone say something like "they don't need to be here they are on financial aid."  You recognize that statement for what it is, classism. And like all isms it dehumanizes each of us.

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Black History Month

 

As I am sure you are aware, February is Black History Month.  As students at this historically black college, I am sure that you have learned a lot about black history. Well, here is a chance for you to test your knowledge of black history from both the distant and recent past. If you are unsure of the answer I have included a web address that will help you out. I hope you find the quiz informative and educational...I did.

1. In the years before Black History Month began to be celebrated, how often were African Americans lynched?
http://www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/BHM/fr_hunt1.html

2. How many million slaves did prominent abolitionist Frederick Douglass estimate there were in the years before the Civil War?
http://www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/BHM/fr_hunt2.html

3. When the conflict over abolition ended with the Civil War, what did demonstrators outside the White House say was the one thing more that they needed?http://www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/BHM/fr_hunt3.html

4. Sixty years after the Civil War ended, what federal program helped to preserve the oral histories of people who had been slaves?
http://www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/BHM/fr_hunt4.html

5. Who came before Rosa Parks in protesting the segregation of public transportation?
http://www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/BHM/fr_hunt5.html

6. What famous poem by Marcus Garvey ends with lines, "over blacks must be their king, Not white, but of their somber hue, To rule a nation of themselves?"
http://www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/BHM/fr_hunt9.html

7. What were the people at the Million Man March supposed to do right after they took the pledge?
http://www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/BHM/fr_hunt13.html

8. What's the spirit behind the last line of Maya Angelous's poem recited at President Clinton's first inauguration?
http://www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/BHM/fr_hunt12.html

9. Describe two habits of Nelson Mandela that show his serious dedication to achieving his goals.
http://www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/BHM/fr_hunt7.html

10. Who knew by the age of 10 that he wanted to be a revolutionary?
http://www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/BHM/fr_hunt8.html

This quiz was developed by the Working the Web for Education program at:
http://www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/BHM/AfroAm.htm

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Thoughts of War

 

The United States is at war, which means we are all involved.    West Virginians have a strong patriotic tradition of serving in the military, and our response to the present conflict confirms this.  Many of WVSU's students have answered the call to war and even more of our students have had to bid farewell to family members and friends who have left to serve our country.   As an instructor at WVSC, I have found my classes depleted, as many students have been called away.  I feel a lacking for their absence, and I worry for their futures.  I believe that many of our instructors and students feel the same.  Those of us who are left behind often feel frustrated by our inability to directly contribute to the war effort.  We often feel that all we can do is worry for our loved ones and await their return.  

We, the staff of Collegiate Support and Counseling Services, are familiar with how detrimental feelings of helplessness and anxiety, for assistance with these issues please contact us on the first floor of Sullivan Hall East, or call (304) 766-3168 to schedule an appointment.

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Multicultural Festival

On Thursday, April 26, 2012 we will hold our 21st Annual Multicultural/International Awareness Festival & Disability Day.  The festival is held between the Wilson University Union and the Clock Tower.  Festivities are held between 11:00 AM and will continue until 2:00 PM.  

The Multicultural Festival and Disability Day is one of the biggest activities on campus and is enjoyed by the entire WVSU Community.  Activities at this year's festival will include ethnic music, dance, international food sampling, storytelling, craft demonstrations, and an interfaith forum.  Displays, booths games, prizes and give-a-ways will also be a part of the festival. Our annual traditional American picnic free to all WVSU staff, students, and faculty is always a big hit.  

This annual event is always a lot of fun for the whole WVSU community. If you have any questions about the festival please call me at (304) 766-3168 or  e-mail me at lbarron@wvstateu.edu.  I hope to see you at next years festival!

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