At the second annual Bronx Celebration Day on April 21, a Mexican folk dance troupe, Marzarte Dance Company, held hands with Fordham students and local residents for an energetic chain dance around the Walsh Lot of the Rose Hill campus.
Folklorist and choreographer Martha Nora Zarate-Alvarez, who heads the Bronx-based ensemble, said the group’s lively performance represented the traditions of the Huasteco and Jalisco regions of Mexico.
“We wanted to showcase the importance of Mexican culture in the Bronx and traditional Mexican dance,” said Zarate-Alvarez, who was dressed in a multicolored tiered skirt. “Mexican culture is more than just mariachi music.”
Bronx Celebration Day was presented by the Bronx Collaboration Committee, a division of the Fordham Club, and co-sponsored by Bronx Community Board 6, Fordham University Commuting Students Association, Fordham Road BID, and the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer at Fordham University.
Anyone who thinks immigrants from Muslim countries are here to wage war on Christianity, or that Islam is a “terrorist religion,” would have left yesterday’s “Young African Immigrant Voices” panel at Fordham, organized by the Bronx African American History Project, with their belief system shaken to the core.
On the outside, the panel looked like White Conservative America’s worst nightmare. Five of the seven young women on the panel wore hijabs and both of the men–and one of the women–had “Muhammed” in their names.
But once they started speaking, every stereotype started to shatter. One young woman, a recent immigrant from Ghana who attended Kappa International High School across the street from Fordham, wore an Army ROTC sweatshirt along with her hijab, and spoke how much she loved the military and of her plans to pursue a career in the United States Armed Forces.
One of the men on the panel, an artist and teacher whose work promoting peace and gender equality has taken him all over the world, spoke of how his father, an Imam in Ghana, sent him to a Catholic boarding school, allowing him to sing all the same songs as his Christian friends and endowing him with a lifelong commitment to bringing people of different nationalities and faiths together.
A young women recently arrived from from Nigeria, now a student leader at Lehman College in the Bronx, spoke of how her Muslim faith did not separate her from her Christian siblings and spoke proudly of her family as a model of mutual understanding between people of different faiths.
And finally, three of the elders in the group–two Muslim, one Christian, who had worked for groups ranging from the Mayor’s Office to the City Commission on Human Rights to the offices of Bronx City Council members and Congressman Serrano, spoke of how you could not work effectively in the African Immigrant communities of the Bronx by dividing people along religious lines. They said Christians and Muslims faced the same issues and lived and worked in harmony.
On a panel that was diverse in age and experience as well as religion, there was not a single moment where anyone spoke critically of people of other faiths. And when people spoke of their own religious background, they invoked that tradition as something which promoted peace and the building of strong families and communities.
At a time when fear of immigrants, and Muslims, is being promoted in the highest places, the Bronx African American History Project provided an extremely valuable counterweight to misinformation and hysteria.
Special thanks must be given to the organizer of this panel, Jane Edward, Ph.D., a brilliant scholar brought up Christian in South Sudan, who has worked closely with the African Islamic Community of the Bronx since her arrival at Fordham ten years ago, and who has won their respect through her writing, speaking and advocacy.
The young people she brought together exemplified, for all who wanted to see it, the promise of an American future where people of all faiths, and nations and values live together in harmony and mutual understanding.
I know, that the shortest month of the year is devoted to honoring black Americans is a disgrace, but being that it is Black History Month, I wanted to share some of the awesome work by faculty from Fordham’s African American History department:
Watch a clip of Dr. Cox on the Melissa Harris-Perry show on MSNBC here.
Christina Greer‘s research and teaching focus on American politics, black ethnic politics, urban politics, immigration, quantitative methods, Congress, city and state politics, campaigns and elections, and public opinion.
and the Normalization of US-Cuba Relations with Margaret Crahan, Sujatha Fernandes, and Alberto R. Tornés
In a historic broadcast on December 17, Presidents Obama and Castro simultaneously announced the normalization of diplomatic ties between Cuba and the United States, severed in January of 1961. The aim of this policy change, President Obama explained, is to“unleash the potential of 11 million Cubans” to create a more democratic and prosperous social and economic system. Panelists include renowned Cuba scholars and humanitarian aid activists who will explore the impact of the normalization of US-Cuba relations on the empowerment of the Cuban people and on our humanitarian assistance to the island:
Margaret E. Crahan is Director of the Cuba Program at the Institute for Latin American Studies at Columbia University. Watch a recent talk she gave on Cuba here.
Alberto R. Tornés, who holds a BA in International Relations from Fordham and an MA in Special and Bilingual Education from CUNY’s City College, is Director of Economic Empowerment at Raíces de Esperanza or Roots of Hope, an international non-profit, non-partisan network of young people who sponsor academic and cultural initiatives focused on youth empowerment in Cuba.
Rose M. Perez was 8 years old when her family left Cuba.
She remembers holding her mother’s hand as they marched with the line of travelers across the tarmac toward the plane. Suddenly her mother paused and looked upward, her expression stoic.
“I said ‘Mom, come on, the line is getting ahead of us,’” said Perez, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the Graduate School of Social Service (GSS). “I knew something was wrong, because she didn’t respond.”
Years later Perez learned that her mother had intentionally slowed down so that her relatives who gathered to watch the family depart would be able to see their place in the line.
Perez’s struggle to balance her Cuban and American cultures inspired her research on the adaptation of immigrants and refugees to U.S. society and how immigrants reconcile the worlds they must straddle.
I was writing to an editor at a magazine this evening about an opinion piece one of our law professors is going to write for them, and as I was going through her credentials, I thought, “She’s one brilliant Latina!”
An alumna of Brown University and Yale Law School, Tanya Hernandez is a professor of law at Fordham School of Law. Her expertise centers on discrimination; Latin America/Latin American law; and employment.
And in this piece she penned for the Huffington Post (before the Supreme Court ruled on Affirmative Action), she covered one of my favorite things to bring up when debating matters of race with friends: implicit bias.
The thing is, once I bring it up, it usually shuts the (Facebook) discussion down. The person feels I’ve insulted them, when in reality, I haven’t, because I’ve had implicit racial biases as well. We all have! And as Hernandez explains, they can be overcome:
As a decision is expected within the next two weeks, one thing I hope the Court will consider is that research in the field of cognitive psychology reveals that we all harbor biases and that affirmative action policies assist in addressing those biases.
Part of the reason for enduring social hierarchies is that individuals rely on stereotypes to process information and have biases that they don’t know they have. These implicit biases, as psychologists call them, are picked up over a lifetime, absorbed from our culture, and work automatically to color our perceptions and influence our choices.
Over a decade of testing with six million participants of the collaborative research venture between Harvard University, University of Virginia, and the University of Washington, called “Project Implicit,” demonstrates pervasive ongoing bias against non-Whites and lingering suspicion of Blacks in particular. Some 75 percent of Whites, Latinos, and Asians show a bias for Whites over Blacks. In addition, Blacks also show a preference for Whites.
In the educational context, studies of school teachers indicate that teachers generally hold differential expectations of students from different ethnic origins, and that implicit prejudiced attitudes were responsible for these differential expectations as well as the ethnic achievement gap in their classrooms. This is because teachers who hold negative prejudiced attitudes appear more predisposed to evaluate their ethnic minority students as being less intelligent and having less promising prospects for their school careers.
The pervasive existence of implicit bias in society and its manifestation in the educational setting, strongly suggests that the selection of students can be similarly affected by unexamined stereotypes and implicit biases. Bluntly stated university Admission Offices are not immune from the operation of implicit bias.
But we are not slaves to our implicit associations. The social science research indicates that biases can be overridden with concerted effort. Remaining alert to the existence of the bias and recognizing that it may intrude in an unwanted fashion into judgments and actions, can help to counter the influence of the bias. Instead of repressing one’s prejudices, if one openly acknowledges one’s biases, and directly challenges or refutes them, one can overcome them.
Read the rest of that piece here, and then check out this sampling of academic articles she’s written on a bevy of important topics:
Defending Affirmative Action: An International Legal Response, in vol. 29 Civil Rights Litigation and Attorney Fees Annual Handbook (eds. Steven Saltzman & Cheryl I. Harris 2013).
“What Not to Wear” — Race and Unwelcomeness in Sexual Harassment Law: The Story of Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, in Women and the Law Stories 277-306 (2010 Foundation Press book chapter, Elizabeth Schneider & Stephanie Wildman eds.).
Afro-Latin@s and the Latino Workplace, in The Afro-Latin@ Reader: History and Culture in the United States 520-526 (2010 Duke Univ. Press book chapter, Juan Flores & Miriam Jimenez Roman, eds.).
Latino Anti-Black Violence in Los Angeles: Not “Made in the USA,” 13 Harvard Journal African American Public Policy 37-40 (2007).
Sex in the [Foreign] City: Commodification and the Female Sex Tourist, in Rethinking Commodification: Cases and Readings in Law and Culture 222-242 (Joan Williams & Martha Ertman eds., NYU Press 2005) (book chapter).
Proud to say this anti-violence conference is happening at my place of work:
The 1st Annual PEACE IS A LIFESTYLE Conference
“How we can stop the violence in our communities”
(A One-Day CITYWIDE Conference)
Saturday, June 28, 2014
9:00am – 3:00pm
Lincoln Center Campus
113 West 60th Street
(at the corner of 60th St. & Columbus Ave.)
NEW YORK CITY
A, B, C, D and 1 subway trains to 59th Street/Columbus Circle
Throughout the day we will discuss issues like gun violence, hate crimes, bullying, and violence against women and girls, their causes and effects, PLUS solutions and what action steps we can take going forward.
KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Kevin Powell, President & Co-Founder of BK Nation (of MTV’s first even season of The Real World! Remember him?)
FREE & OPEN TO ALL
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-636-6623