Mercerians celebrate diversity in October

Students gather around a table drinking coffee
Twelve students participated in the September Coffee and Culture event at Z Beans.

This fall we usher in a few heritage months.

From Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. The Mercer Mondays podcast highlighted Diversity, Equity and Inclusion fellow Omar Romero-Cruz and Latin American Student Organization members Jasmine Cruz and Stephanie Herrera. Each student reminded Mercerians of the significance of the impact of Hispanic culture and ways to celebrate. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion also will be celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with the Latin American Student Organization with Loteria Night, a bingo-style contest with prizes, to be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 11 in the Godsey Science Center, Room 102. In addition, the Mercer Social Justice Book Club will be reading “The Latino Threat” by Leo Chavez. The book discusses news about “anchor babies, the DREAM Act, and recent anti-immigrant legislation in Arizona and other states, (and) this expanded second edition critically investigates the stories about recent immigrants to show how prejudices are used to malign an entire population ― and to define what it means to be American,” according to the Amazon book overview. The discussion will take place at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 28 on Zoom. (The passcode is Toby.) You don’t need to read the complete book to join the conversation.

LGBT History Month is celebrated Oct. 1-31. This year LGBT History Month celebrates the achievements of 31 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender icons. LGBT History Month was founded by Rodney Wilson, a Missouri high school teacher, in 1994 to increase the teaching of LGBT history in the community and classrooms.

On Oct. 11, the nation will celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day. According to the Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve Initiative, “the only known example of a spiral mound in North America can be found at the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park’s Lamar site. The unique 20-foot high mound was built by native people who used it from 1350 through the late 1500s. … The Muscogee (Creek) Nation lived across the Southeastern United States until their forced removal to the Indian territory west of the Mississippi in the late 1820s. The Creek Nation continues to play a vital role in the protection of the Ocmulgee Indian Mounds and the surrounding natural habitats.”

According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, “The 702-acre Ocmulgee National Monument is considered sacred to members of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation as well as to other federally recognized tribes (such as the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Seminole). … The Muscogee Creek define the region as ‘the place where we first sat down,’ meaning the place where their ancestors first became a settled agricultural society. With this significance in mind, the National Park Service has determined Ocmulgee eligible for recognition as a traditional cultural property, the first site in the eastern United States to qualify for this designation.”

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion also will partner with Tattnall Square Center for the Arts to host a discussion with Mercer University alumnus Charles Thomas about his production of “Hamlet.” “Hamlet 2020” performances are scheduled for Oct. 21-24 and Oct. 28-31. The show will focus on the original story through the lens of the Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) experiences and racial justice.

The office will partner again with the study abroad office and International Bears Association for the second Coffee and Culture Series at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 27. The featured country will be Honduras. In September, we had over 12 students attend the event at Z Beans featuring the country of Ireland.

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion also is partnering with the School of Medicine to offer several open house events this month. Our team will visit each medical school campus for a pop-up discussion and treats. The team next will visit the new Columbus campus on Oct. 14. We are encouraging students, faculty and staff to visit our open house to discuss diversity, equity and inclusion in health care, curriculum and rural community initiatives.

Finally, Halloween is Oct. 31. Please be sure to avoid instances of cultural appropriation by dressing in cultural or religious garments, regalia or ceremonial dress. Cultural appropriation is defined as taking elements of someone else’s culture without permission. It represents a power dynamic that marginalizes a particular set of people and delegitimizes a part of their history and identity.


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