Posted by: Naima | March 16, 2008

Amandla!

Amandla! is the black students union on campus. It’s open to everyone and anyone dedicated to being an ally of students of color at Bates. Although there are efforts being made in multicultural recruitment at Bates, many students here feel that we are on a “white campus”. I remember first coming to Bates last year and immediately being greeted by other black students and invited to attend an Amandla! meeting. It is something that I’ve always appreciated. I hadn’t had that many classes with a lot of students of color, so attending Amandla! meetings and events that they and other groups like Latinos Unidos, Sanghai Asia, and Hillel (just to name a few) had to offer. The name Amandla! comes from the call and response chant that anti-apartheid activists chanted in South Africa. “Amandla! Ngawethu!” is translated into English as “Power! To the people!”. Anyway, the group works with organizations around Lewiston, but mostly focuses on the state of multicultural students at Bates. This weekend, Amandla! hosted it’s annual Unity Conference which consists of a day of workshops, a catered dinner with a keynote speaker, and Triad – a dance that spans across three different rooms with different music. The decided topic of this year’s Unity Conference was “The Politics of Color”. The workshop that I attended was about how color, particularly in the black community, often culturally determined the level of masculinity within boys. The workshop was led by one of my favorite professors at Bates and we discussed how images in film, literature, and television perpetuate these structural issues regarding the perception of black men. The turnout was great for the workshops and suggested that all sorts of people on Bates campus care about these issues. Unfortunately my work schedule prevented me from attending some of the other events, but I heard that people came to the rest of the functions and the conference was an overall success. Even though I feel like a minority at Bates, conversations like the ones at the workshops yesterday allowed me to see that there are many people on campus who strive to understand racial divides, even if they are white and often privileged.

Peace and then some,

Naima

Here’s some pictures from the conference workshops, dinner, and dancing.

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