MLK Day ON!: Know your bias, be a better ally

Friday, January 22 marked the final day of the weeklong Martin Luther King Jr. Day ON! event. A total of 22 students, faculty and staff members joined for How Could You Be A Better Ally, an online presentation about discuss microaggressions toward African Americans and solutions and actions we can all take.

The event was hosted by Student Affairs staff members Julie Arnold, Paul Sittason Stark, and Shaun Gunnell, along with ’Berg senior Ayanna Hayes. During the session, eight Heidelberg students submitted videos for viewing where they discussed moments in their lives when they experienced microaggressions, most of which have stuck with them their whole lives. 

Some of these experiences involved being told, “You are too white to be black,” having to ask friends to not “pet” their hair without permission, and being told by a teacher, “People like you are not smart enough for Harvard.”.

After the eight videos had been played, participants were then able to discuss what they had just watched and talk about how we can be better allies to those around us. Shaun made an impactful first statement, “It is important that we hear it straight from our students on campus.”

As people discussed their experiences and how this session has opened their eyes, President Rob Huntington also made an important declaration: “Invite others to your table, and join others at theirs.” 

The underlying message was that it is important to know your own bias and prejudice and to be able to step beyond those realms to build relationships with those who are different than you and who may have grown up with a different background. Being honest can be difficult but now is the time to take inventory of yourself for everyone’s benefit.

Heidelberg’s MLK series of events ends today but the celebration continues with February being Black History Month. Shaun announced that he is working on a workshop for all faculty, staff, and students. 

by Amanda Overy, ‘21

 

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