I have made a conclusion.
I have concluded that inspiration truly does come in the most unexpected of places, delivered to you by the most unexpected events. This week, inspiration came from a panel discussion that I attended called “Colours of Collaboration,” an event put on and held by the Caribbean and African Association (CAA) here at UBC. When my girl Ava Fard (fellow blog squadder) suggested we check it out I thought what better way to get a sense for some of the clubs on campus then to actually GO to one of their events.
There were 3 panelists, and 1 keynote speaker, all of which had a unique insight and contribution to the discussion. But most importantly they were not there to boast for this club, to recruit members, or to even discuss the club/organization itself, so much as they were there to represent ideas of approaching multiculturalism, social change, and essentially, collaboration.
I briefly go into some of the topics covered that night, below:
Power and Social Hierarchy
How have we come to perceive power in society? Is knowledge power? Is class power? What about race? These were some of the things that Minnijean Brown-Trickery (keynote speaker) brought up in her talk. Having taken part in Little Rock Nine during the civil rights movement in the United States, and along with many of the other things she has accomplished, she was able to discuss racialization and the role of young individuals, specifically educated students, in making change. She described this type of duty as a “social obligation”, our role as students, our role as the educated, our role as human beings. Minnijean Brown-Trickery along with the other panelists spurred a lot of questioning, provoking somewhat of a paradigm shift in the way I thought about race and its part within this wider and complex system.
What is Multiculturalism?
The more you get involved and engaged with material in your classes and events like this, the easier you find it to make compound connections. The debate over multiculturalism and its policies is actually a foregrounding topic in my human geography class this semester. This dialog added a great perspective to the topic because here we were, living and discussing it first hand. What privilege we have to live in a society where we have at least achieved multiculturalism. And to attend a school where your floor alone (in residence) is composed of students from over at least 10 different nations? Whether or not we have fully accomplished the integration of cultures is still a contested topic, but at least we’ve made progress. This is why social change is stressed, because the changes we make today are directly affecting the people of tomorrow (Ex. immigration laws). As Minnijean wittily said “Obama would not be here if it weren’t for me”. What she meant was that the struggles that she faced and the fight that she fought directly influenced how society has progressed, how society has changed.
How Can We Collaborate?
Finally we must ask ourselves how can we collaborate? Well I think attending this event was the first step. As I looked around the room there were not just students who were enrolled in this club, but a mix of different races and different students of all ages. That is what I am striving to embrace, accept and encourage. A great lesson learned was that many of the clubs, like the CAA, do not discriminate or hold a standard that you must be of African or Caribbean descent to join. Part of collaborating is about spreading awareness of these cultures, and spreading that awareness with many different types of students.
So I think you may be able to take a few things away with you from this, I know i did! Don’t forget to also get involved. Take part in social change, challenge hierarchal structures, learn, engage and collaborate! Because if you don’t participate, you will disappear. Mark Minnijean Brown-Trickery’s words.