“DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND BELONGING”: A look into the shortcomings of Eastern University’s diversity initiative.

The Diversity and Inclusion Planning Initiative was created in 2016 to respond to an analysis which determined the racial makeup of the EU workforce had been steadily declining from 2010 to 2015. The analysis specifically cited university leadership as lacking in racial, ethnic, and gender diversity.
The initiative, charged by former President Robert Duffett and led by former Executive Vice President, Tom Ridington, was recommended to address the widening gap between the diversity of Eastern’s student body and those who teach and serve our students.

The initiative was followed in 2017 by a report predicting why Eastern has a low number of faculty, staff, and leadership of color, followed by a proposal for how to achieve changes in the area of diversity and inclusion.

An excerpt from the report concludes the low number of people of color at Eastern “is likely symptomatic of deeper causes emanating from policies and practices that fail to reflect the standards of community life found in Eastern University’s institutional commitments,” adding that “Hiring based on personal networks, rather than posted openings, frustrates those outside of existing power relationships from opportunities to advance their career.” The proposal recommended an institutional audit conducted by an external organization and creation of the position of Chief Diversity Officer to respond to this inequity.

In September 2017, after commitments and training to diversify, the University filled six dean’s level and above positions, with all white and mostly male persons. In response, the Concerned Black Staff and Faculty wrote a letter of concern to President Robert Duffett urging him to examine and change the University culture, and tenure and hiring practices. Multiple meetings and letters later, the same practices continue in 2020.

This summer the Anti-Racism Initiative was created by a group of students including a letter and list of expectations for Eastern to make strides toward anti-racism, alongside a petition which gathered the support of over 700 students, parents, alumni, faculty, and staff. In response to this, and to the previous proposals and recommendations, sitting President Ronald Matthews appointed Dr. Randolph Walters as a part-time Special Assistant to the President for Diversity, Equity, and Belonging.

The special assistant was appointed by the President, as opposed to the open process that was recommended in the proposal by the broader study of effective collegiate diversity. The proposal additionally recommended the position of Chief Diversity Officer, a position virtually identical to Dr. Randolph Walter’s new job description. Instead, Special Assistant to the President suggests a consultative role, while upholding the same job description as the full time position of Chief Diversity Officer.

In an attempt to better understand this issue, I consulted Dr. Kathy-Ann Hernandez, a professor at Eastern whose ongoing scholarship and research for a book she co-edited, Diversity Matters, focused specifically on the Black Diaspora in Christian higher education. Hernandez says “My continued work in the area of diversity and inclusion convinces me that ultimately D & I work is about disrupting
‘cultural lock-in’. This term refers to ‘the gradual stiffening of the invisible architecture of the corporation’ that results in ‘the ossification of its decision-making abilities, control systems, and mental models’ (Foster & Kaplan, 2001, p.16).”

Hernandez adds, “Even with the best strategies and policies for going forward, if we do not first do the work that is necessary to first identify the culture that is at work here and then seek to change it, we are treating the symptom rather than the cause.”

This observation directly addresses the procedural failures of Eastern University in appointing the role of Special Assistant to the President for Diversity, Equity, and Belonging. Dr. Hernandez concluded, “I view the processes by which this appointment was made as a serious misstep on the path to creating a truly inclusive and equitable EU campus community. This was an opportunity to disrupt the status quo of how things are ‘done at EU’ and to make room at the table for more voices to be part of the process. Now more than ever given the zeitgeist, institutions that continue to make such decisions from positions of privilege and power, do so at their own detriment.”

Eastern University’s honorable goal of increasing diversity, inclusivity, and belonging for staff, faculty, and students of color by creating this position was well intentioned and certainly needed. However, their aim will ultimately be hindered by upholding the normative procedures and practices which inhibit diversity and inclusion. For Eastern to take effective and sustainable steps toward diversity, equity, and belonging they must reconsider the procedures which ultimately inhibit these ambitions and heed the recommendations given by the Eastern community.

Bid to Erase Arrest Records of Civil Rights Activists Considered By Courts: The arrest records of Claudette Colvin, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. are being considered for expungement by U.S. courts.

As Claudette Colvin, a civil rights pioneer, aims to have her records erased from her role in the civil rights movement, similar considerations have arisen regarding the clearance of the arrest records of Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. The convictions of Parks and King are still upheld in Montgomery, Ala.

At the age of 15, Colvin refused to give up her seat to a white person in which she was forcibly removed by police officers, arrested and put on unspecified probation. Nine months following this occurrence, Parks, a black seamstress and activist, refused to give up her seat to a white person in which she was arrested and fined $10. Parks refused to pay the $10 fine she had been given. Likewise, King’s role in leading the subsequent Montgomery Bus Boycott led to a conviction and hefty $500 fine after courts ruled that he trespassed a law banning boycotts in 1956. 

“Montgomery County Circuit Clerk Gina Ishman said expunging court documents removes convictions from defendants’ record but generally does not result in the destruction of documents, such as the historical police and court records involving people like Colvin, King and Parks,” The Detroit News stated. Similarly, Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey, the chief prosecutor in Montgomery, expressed his support towards the expungement of the arrest records of King and Parks. However, Bailey explained the need to attain specifics of these arrests prior to responding in court. 

In the 1950s and ‘60s, large quantities of people faced arrest across the South throughout the civil rights demonstrations. After the city of Birmingham offered pardons to people who endured arrest during these demonstrations in 1963, many former protesters expressed that they viewed their arrest records as a badge of honor towards civil rights. Hence, many people refused to receive the pardon offered by the city of Birmingham. 

Colvin explained that the conviction had never distressed her, but her family was concerned because she had never been given any notice stating that her probation concluded. According to Colvin, the worst part of the ordeal was losing friends from high school due to her act of resistance. “They didn’t want to be around me,” Colvin shared. 

As Colvin seeks to have her arrest records wiped away, she notes the symbolic nature of this decision as she aims to honor the justice that so many Black people fought and continue to fight for within the United States. 

“My mindset was on freedom,” Colvin stated as she concluded filling out the expungement request. 

Sources: The Detroit News

Europe Returns Numerous Stolen Artifacts to Africa: European institutions reckon with colonial past and return stolen artifacts to Africa.

On the week of Oct. 27, multiple European institutions officially returned looted African art. Jesus College of Cambridge became the first institution in the United Kingdom to return one of the Benin Bronzes, famous bronze sculptures from the Kingdom of Benin, which historically was located in modern-day Nigeria. The University of Aberdeen quickly followed suit. The Benin Bronzes are viewed as some of the most culturally significant artifacts from West Africa, so their ownership has been a highly contested question. A few days later, the Quai Branly Museum also returned 26 unique pieces; however, these 29 pieces are not even close to the 5,000 works Nigeria has requested be returned to them.

Other museums have agreed to return their pieces as well; Germany said that they will begin returning looted artifacts next year. However, there are still many museums who have not publicly declared that they will return artifacts to their country of origin, including the British Museum in London, which has a massive collection of works from all over the world. Many of these artifacts were acquired through colonial conquests. The British Museum has announced their openness to displaying the pieces they currently own in Nigeria, but they have remained silent on the prospect of transferring ownership.

France especially has been a loud voice in Europe that artifacts be returned. French President Emmanuel Macron said in 2017 that it was unacceptable that France should continue to claim ownership of so many looted African pieces. In 2018, he commissioned a report that recommended that French museums return works if they are requested to do so.

Just because a museum has transferred ownership of a piece does not mean that the artifact will be permanently housed by its new owners. Plenty of museums lend their pieces out to be displayed elsewhere in the world. Anyone who has visited a museum might remember seeing advertisements for a special gallery or exhibition; sometimes, these traveling exhibitions cost extra to see. Despite this, even though a piece might travel and be shown all around the world, many have argued that it still matters who has ownership of the piece. As many view ownership as a form of power, this transfer of looted artifacts symbolized an effort on the part of many European institutions to reckon with their colonial history.

This move does not erase the history that has led to this point. However, now that some institutions and governments have been public and vocal about their intentions to give these looted artifacts back to their countries of origin, many have wondered if this may spark a chain reaction wherein beautiful works of art can be a source of pride for their country and a source of beauty for people everywhere.

Sources: NBC, Reuters

SGA’s Newest Proposal Aims to Provide Grant for Several Student Leader Groups: SGA pursues grant for student leaders involved in MAAC and Student Chaplain Program.

The Multicultural Awareness Advisory Board (MAAC) and the Student Chaplain Program consist of student leaders who provide resources and support to Eastern University’s student body. In recognition of the hefty workload and contributions made by both MAAC and the Student Chaplain Program, the Student Government Association (SGA) has established a proposal advocating for the implementation of a grant. This grant would act as a means of compensating students who serve within these organizations. 

SGA has noted that both MAAC and the Student Chaplain Program are not standard clubs on Eastern’s campus, as they provide in-depth services and resources to the student body at large. “The MAAC board helps create and foster dynamic, innovative and diverse programming for the education of the student body,” SGA explained. Throughout each semester, the MAAC board has hosted and continues to host a variety of speakers and events, such as dinner and discussion events.

The Student Chaplain Program serves as emotional and spiritual support for Eastern’s students. “The Student Chaplain Program’s purpose is to be an in-residence emotional support, prayer, and community partner to residential students; ultimately they are required to live on campus and are assigned to every residence hall,” SGA stated. 

As the Students Activities Board (SAB) and the SGA Executive Board are recipients of a grant for their work in the community, SGA have used this reality to emphasize how MAAC and the Student Chaplain Program do not receive similar benefits despite also making substantial contributions to Eastern. 

The objective of this proposal declares: “We seek to advocate for student body advocates at Eastern University to receive a nominal and tangible grant for their work,” SGA shared. Therefore, SGA has recommended the implementation of grants in addressing the financial needs of MAAC and the Student Chaplain.

Regarding MAAC, SGA has proposed that the president receives $500 annually and other leadership members receive $250 annually. Regarding the Student Chaplain Program, SGA has proposed that the president receives $500 annually, other leadership members receive $250 annually and each chaplain receives basic housing rates. Overall, this proposal cost roughly $3,000 to $3,500 in yearly grants for Eastern.  It is important to note that “Since this proposal involves other groups, it does have a few stages left before it is submitted,” SGA stated. 

The enactment of proposals goes through several processes. First, the proposal is initially created, presented to the SGA senate for approval and finalized. Next, Dr. Jackie Irving is sent the proposal which is then sent to the Leadership Team. Finally, the Leadership Team discusses the proposal in which one of three options normally takes place: the proposal is approved, the proposal is denied or the proposal is sent to the Board of Trustees for further review. 

According to SGA, the inspiration behind this proposal stems from the recognition of the immense contributions made by both MAAC and the Student Chaplain Program to the larger Eastern community. “Both groups put in countless hours of training, work and dedication to their jobs and are essential components of the Eastern University community,” SGA explained.

Veterans Day: What’s the holiday all about?

What is it that we are celebrating or commemorating when we observe Veterans Day? Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor all who have served, living or deceased, but in particular the living veterans among us.

In contrast, Memorial Day specifically commemorates the men and women who died while serving our country. Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day in the United States, commemorating the signing of the agreement that ended World War 1 at 11a.m., Nov. 11, 1918. President Woodrow Wilson celebrated the first Armistice Day in 1919. 

My favorite movie is “The Pianist” (2002) directed by Roman Polanski.  It is a story about a Polish-Jewish radio station pianist, Wladyslaw Szpilman (played by Adrien Brody), who survives the ordeals of  World War 2 in Warsaw, Poland. Adrien Brody starved himself to 130 pounds to portray the role of a victim of war in Polanski’s film.  In an interview by GQ Magazine, Adrien Brody describes his process and experience. Brody said, “I wanted to show a transition from Szpilman’s lowest point, after being in hiding and not eating, so that- you can’t act emaciated.  You have to become emaciated.  And that was a technical process that led to a discovery about the hollowness and emptiness, that one feels when you are literally deprived of sufficient nutrition. Then the physical metamorphosis affects your self-esteem, and your energy levels, and your will power, and your strength.” Brody added that The effects of war include long-term physical and psychological harm to children and adults.” 

The official journal of the World Psychological Association, World Psychiatry, published research on the mental health consequences of war. The authors wrote, “As happened in the first half of the 20th century, when war gave a big push to the developing concepts of mental health, the study of the psychological consequences of the wars of the current century could add new understandings and solutions to mental health problems of general populations.” 

Veterans Day is a day of reckoning.  What is the cost of war?  It is a time to remind ourselves that we can do our part to heal society. If you know someone in need or want to help, you do not have to look far. As the only food pantry in Radnor Township, Wayne Church, A United Methodist Community accepts non-expired, non-perishable items as well as monetary donations. They can be reached at: (610)688-5650 or via email at learnmore@wayneumc.org. Sources:  https://www.almanac.com/veterans-day, https://youtu.be/WUzeOF_QTWY, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1472271/, wayneumc.org/food-pantry/

The Science of Gratitude: How an attitude of thanksgiving can change your brain and body.

I’m sure we have all heard the common phrase “an attitude of gratitude.” Countless inspirational speakers and clergy alike have used to phrase to encourage their listeners to evoke a more positive attitude. This idea of adopting an attitude of gratitude has been scientifically proven to produce greater positive outcomes and a more fulfilled life. Here’s what you need to know to be most successful in this practice. 

Typically gratitude studies focus on people with no mental health concerns. Greater Good Medicine took a different approach to their research study on gratitude. They wanted to determine the impact of gratitude on individuals with mental health concerns.  They performed this study with about 300 adults, mostly college students, that were receiving counseling services. There were three test groups who were each given different tasks such as writing a letter of gratitude to someone for 12 weeks and writing about their deepest thoughts and feelings of negative experiences. 

The results found were incredible. They can be summed up into four major points. The first is the idea that gratitude unshackles us from toxic emotions. The results assert this idea that gratitude letter writing can move a person’s thoughts away from negative emotions such as envy or resentment. The idea is that in writing these letters of gratitude to others, it becomes harder for you to focus on the negative experiences. 

The second idea is that gratitude helps even if we do not share it with others. The study asked the first group to send their letters to people they were grateful for but only about 23% actually sent them. They found however that everyone who wrote a letter about gratitude, despite not sending it, still received the positive benefits. Taking the simple act of writing a letter of gratitude allows the writer to cherish the people in their life more and move the focus from the negative feelings and thoughts. 

The next concept is the idea that the benefits of gratitude take time, they do not simply happen overnight. The positive benefits of gratitude found in the study were the results of twelve weeks of writing letters. They suggest being patient when starting out with the gratitude writing activity and not expecting immediate results. 

The final idea is that gratitude has lasting effects on this brain. When analyzing the brains of those who wrote letters to those who did not, the results propose that practicing gratitude trains the brain to be more receptive to encounters of gratitude, leading to improved mental health. So whether you take the time to write gratitude letters for the people in your life or simply think of reasons to be grateful every day, be intentional about practicing gratitude. It will help you in the long run. 

 

Source: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_gratitude_changes_you_and_your_brain

Psi Chi’s Stress Less Week: The honors society for Psychology hosted a variety of events to educate and support stressed students.

November is probably the most stressful month of the fall semester. Midterm exams fall during this month, and it feels like every possible important project, paper, and assignment is due at this time. Students and professors alike are catching up on work that they’ve fallen behind on. And in addition to all of that, registration opens for the next semester, so students need to be thinking not only about the ever-demanding present, but also about the future as well. Thanksgiving break looms in the foreground, but for many students, there’s the added stress of making plans to get home or finding someone to stay with if they aren’t able to go home.

For all of these reasons and more, Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology, decided to host their Stress Less Week during the first week of November, from the first to the fifth. They had events all week long to help educate students on stress and how to deal with it, as well as providing ways to reduce stress.

Stress has been proven to not only affect your mental health but also your physical health. It’s important to pay attention to the signs your mind and body are showing you to indicate that you are stressed, like feeling tired or irritable constantly, struggling to focus, and experiencing headaches. If you are concerned about your levels of stress, try the tips below. If your stress levels are causing distress, contact a healthcare professional, CCAS, or a call center line designed to help you find solutions to manage your stress.

On Monday, they set up a table in Walton and greeted students with packets on stress, tea bags, and a sticker of their choice. There was also a table where students could make their own stress ball by filling an uninflated balloon with rice. Stress balls have been found to be useful in improving the focus of sixth graders in a study by Sheryl Stalvey and Heather Brasell, so anyone who took a few minutes to make their own stress ball may be finding that their focus in class improved.

Tuesday’s event was an art night in McInnis, where students could bring their own project or start a new one. The term art therapy was firts coined in 1942 by British artist Adrian Hill. It was used to improve the mood of tuberculosis patients confined to santitoriums, and by 1964, the idea of artistic expression as a metnally healing practice was cemented by the creation of the British Association of Art Therapists.

Psi Chi also partnered with Wednesday Night Worship for their mid-week event. The tag on their poster read, “Give your worries to God!” There are many Bible verses that are often quoted in tandem with that idea, such as Matthew 11:28-30 and 1 Peter 5:7. Music is also a source of comfort and an emotional outlet for many people, whether they play an instrument, sing, or just listen to music. Many people find it cathartic to sing along to songs with lyrics that express their worry and fear while also allowing them to give those emotions to God.

On Thursday, they held a Yoga Night where students were encouraged to bring their own mat. Yoga originated in South Asia as a practice connected to the Hindu religion, but today, many people in the West practice it without connecting it back to its origins. Many yoga practices involved stretching and regulated breathing.

Lastly, on Friday, Psi Chi concluded their Stress Less Week with DIY Self-Care Night, where they encouraged students to implement the practices that they’d found most helpful over the course of the week and to make them a regular part of their routine. Stress isn’t something that can be banished with one night of yoga or an hour doing art; because the causes of stress never go away, the solutions need to be consistent as well. Hopefully, Psi Chi Stress Less Week showed students how they can form consistent habits to reduce their own stress.

Sources: https://adelphipsych.sg/the-history-of-art-therapy/, the Bible

The First Thanksgiving: How the history affects the celebration of the holiday today.

  In 1620, the pilgrims landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts. During their first winter, half of the original 102 passengers died. At this point, they met a native to the continent and a member of the Patuxet tribe named Squanto. Squanto had been captured by an English sea captain and taken to London where he learned to speak English before escaping. Squanto taught the pilgrims many things that proved key to their survival including how to plant corn. He also helped them make an alliance with the local Wamponoag tribe. When the first corn harvest was successful, the pilgrims held a celebratory feast of thanksgiving and invited a group of members of the Wamonoag tribe including the chief Massasoit. 

We do not know exactly what was served at this meal. We do know that William Bradford sent four men “fowling” but we do not know what birds they were hunting. The idea of turkey comes about because of the vast number of turkeys in that region. We also know the Wamponoags brought five deer as a gift to the dinner. Besides this, we can assume they ate many crops and vegetables native to the area. We also understand that there would have been no desserts because the pilgrims lacked any kind of oven.

This meal was not called “Thanksgiving,” but the purpose of it was to give thanksgiving to God for what He had provided them with. This meal was by no means “the first thanksgiving”. It is more likely copied off of some European thanksgiving celebration. The meal set a sort of precedent among the new colonies, and it continued to be celebrated in different places throughout the coming years. After the Revolutionary War, multiple presidents dedicated days of thanksgiving. In 1817, New York became the first state to declare an official day of thanksgiving. Finally, in 1863, at the height of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln encouraged the last Thursday in November to be a day of thanksgiving and to pray for the ongoing war effort. Since then, except for a few years during the Great Depression, Thanksgiving has been celebrated on the last Thursday in November. 

  One of the important things to think about when you celebrate a holiday is, what are you actually celebrating? Put simply, Thanksgiving is a national day where we are encouraged to be thankful. We are also celebrating and remembering the meal that the Wamonoag tribe and the Pilgrims shared together. Some people seem to take offense at this second portion of the holiday. The argument seems to be that it is falsely painting Native American and European relations. 

When we celebrate thanksgiving we are celebrating the moment of peace: the meal that was shared between two peoples. We are not denying the war between them, or the atrocious acts of violence. It is a day where we give thanks for the peace we do have. This does not mean things are perfect. They are far from that. But I believe it is healthy in the midst of whatever trial or sad event currently controls your life to stop and to be able to be thankful for one thing you have been blessed with.

Sources: Britannica, History.com

EU Play: “Almost, Maine”: A review of EU Arts’s fall production, “Almost, Maine.”

This semester, Eastern’s theatre department performed “Almost, Maine,” a modern play composed of a series of short scenes that take place at the same moment in time, in the same town, with different characters. It’s a clever concept, and the cast and crew of the play executed it beautifully. However, I ultimately found that my sentiments matched the tagline of the play: “It’s love. But not quite.”

There are a million things to love about the play. First of all, the cast is wonderful. There are only twelve cast members, and many of them are double-cast, since there are almost no repeat characters between scenes. They all do a wonderful job making each character unique and interesting, and despite depicting a range of characters of different ages and backgrounds, each one feels very authentic. The costumes help with this. They’re not complicated affairs, but they’re clever. You can tell that Hope has come from out of town as soon as she walks on stage, for example, by her heeled boots and too-light coat.

The set is also gorgeous. As soon as you walk in, you know you’ll be in for a treat. Edison bulbs are strung across the majority of the ceiling, and they twinkle and glow throughout much of the play, creating a charming atmosphere. “You just want to curl up and read a book there,” stage director Anna Davis said. The creation of the Northern Lights is also impressive, and the set pieces on stage are simple and artful, giving the audience just enough to guide them while avoiding overwhelming the actors.

However, I couldn’t make myself love the story, despite the amazing job that the cast and crew did with it. The story incorporates fabulism, a literary technique where magic and strange happenings are part of the everyday world we live in; it’s comparable to magical realism, but some experts argue that magical realism can only be used to describe postcolonial narratives. Fabulism/magical realism is one of my favorite genres, but I think this play gives it a bad name. The fabulism elements were gimmicky and overly self-referential; when one character realizes she’s fallen in love with another, for example, she quite literally falls over, and then states that she’s fallen because she fell in love. Likewise, another character carries around her broken heart in a bag. Well-crafted magical realism and fabulism feels natural to the world; the audience should believe that this is the way the world was meant to be. There was nothing necessary or beautiful about the fabulist elements in this play, and I found it hard to suspend my disbelief.

Another issue with the story was a pitfall of one of the best elements of the play: the vignette style. Because the scenes were so short, some of them worked better than others. I anticipate that people will have different scenes that worked and that didn’t, but there were a couple scenes where I didn’t feel like I had enough information to get emotionally involved with the characters. The framing device was one such scene: I loved the idea of having one scene that bookends the play, but there simply wasn’t enough there for me to care about whether the characters love each other or not.

Ultimately, I really enjoyed watching the play. There were scenes that were beautifully done—I cried at one scene. The cast and crew did a wonderful job with material that simply missed the mark for me. It was the Eastern theatre department that gave me everything I loved about “Almost, Maine,” and for that, I applaud them.

Black Voices in Classical Education: How the Black intellectual tradition has been shaped and been shaped by the classical tradition.

On the evening of Friday, Nov. 12, Eastern University had the privilege of hosting three distinguished guests for a conversation on classical education and the Black intellectual tradition. The event was organized and hosted by the Templeton Honors College, and the conversation was led and moderated by Dr. Brian Williams, the dean of the Templeton Honors College and the dean of Eastern University’s college of arts and humanities. Dr. Williams is also the co-director of Eastern’s Masters in classical education program. The event also featured Dr. Eric Ashley Hairston, an associate dean and professor of humanities at Wake Forest University as well as Dr. Angel Adams Parham, an associate professor of sociology at University of Virginia. Perhaps the biggest privilege of this event was that Eastern University was able to also host Dr. Cornel West. Dr. West is the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union Theological Seminary and is the author of “Race Matters” and “Democracy Matters”. 

Dr. Williams opened the event by welcoming the three guests and giving a brief introduction to what classical education is and its connection to the Black intellectual tradition. After his introduction, Dr. Williams presented a water-color painting to Dr. West that featured West and the 19th century Danish theologian Søren Kierkagaard enjoying a conversation over tea. West warmly and enthusiastically laughed at the painting and accepted it before moving to the podium to give his introduction to the importance of classical education and how it is closely tied to the black intellectual tradition. West has been a prolific voice in the Black intellectual tradition as well as the classical tradition for many years and sparked controversy in April of this year when he spoke out against Howard University’s decision to dissolve their classics department. In his opening speech, West emphasized the importance of “raising every voice.” West layed out the significance of classical education in three parts: the formation of attention, the cultivation of a critical sensibility and the maturation of a loving soul. He outlined how the questions raised in classical texts are not only timeless questions, but timely questions: they are “enduring and timeless and timely questions.” He laid out that we need to turn our minds and souls and attention to things that really matter; we need to attend to things that are truly important as we ask the question “what does it mean to be human?” Questions in classical texts provide the formation of attention away from our “quest for insatiable pleasure” and towards what is important. Next, West affirmed that classical education also helps cultivate critical sensibilities in us, and most importantly, leads to the maturation of a loving soul. West went on to emphasize that the “black freedom movement is an important leaven in the democratic loaf.” He plainly admitted that we don’t know if the American experiment will last, but that every single generation must be up for the task. West concluded his speech with a question: how do we sustain hope? West answered his own question by saying that we sustain hope by coming together, and having conversation (not chit-chat).

The conversation was opened up to all three guests as Dr. Williams began to ask Dr. Hairston and Dr. Parham about their own work in their respective fields. The conversation stayed centered around the values of classical texts and the power they have to promote a better society. Dr. West spent some time discussing how the figures in the Black intellectual tradition provided themselves as examples of integrity and virtue and how we need to come to terms with suffering, not just in our education but in our daily lives. He contrasted popular figures in the past with celebrities by comparing current celebrities to peacocks: “peacocks strut because they can’t fly”; we need to fly, we need to leave the Aristotelian cave in order to fly back in and have influence on those still in the dark. Dr. Parham spent some time discussing the reality and dangers of “historical amnesia,” and how ancient classical texts along with black literary classics can help counter historical amnesia.

Before opening up the conversation for a very brief time for audience questions, Dr. West gave a message to our generation of students and young adults: be great, not successful; let awards and titles go because “great is the highest level.”

Movie Spotlight: Shutter Island: A broken island field with mystery, memories, regret, and violence.

In 1954, A U.S. Marshal, Teddy Daniels, with his partner Chuck Aule was tasked with finding an escaped patient. They arrive at Ashecliffe, a penitentiary that holds the most dangerous and damaged patients in the world. However, the audience understands Daniels’s true motive for taking on the case as he searches for the man who killed his wife.

The scenes are uneasy as the patients, doctors, and workers are mysterious, leading our main character to question his sanity. Pictures, songs, German doctors, subtle words, and officers remind Daniels of his past WWII memories. He develops hallucinations of his deceased wife, German soldiers, and Holocaust survivors at a death camp. An investigation for an escaped patient turns into Daniels fighting his past and himself.

Feb. 19, 2010, the legendary Martin Scorsese directed “Shutter Island.” The psychological thriller mystery drama is paired with an excellent cast. The three characters played by Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, and Ben Kingsley complement each other in scenes. When all three are in the exact location, it’s a chess match of words wanting to make the other make a mistake.

When the movie ended, “Shutter Island” didn’t win any notable awards. The biggest surprise from this movie was that neither Scorsese nor DiCaprio were nominated for an Oscar. This is one of few blemishes of their career as it is the first time both haven’t been nominated for an Oscar. Some say the movie is hard on the eyes with the consistent flashes of war crimes, concentration camps, and gory death scenes in WWII. 

While the movie has its flaws, here’s what I like about the film. In the beginning, you hear eerie music behind the Paramount logo. It leaves the audience in suspense, wondering what will happen next. This noise follows throughout the movie, seeing odd patients, officers, and Daniels’s memories. I love films that display eerie music, and they put you at the edge of your seat.

Because this is a psychological thriller, conversations about human nature being violent, insane, or delusional are ordinary. However, there are three scenes, in particular, that center around violence. First, Daniels finds himself talking to a vital doctor of the penitentiary about being a “man of violence.” Next is a suspenseful scene of Daniels talking to an inmate, informing him about the dangerous things Daniels has done. Last, the warden has a one-on-one talk with Daniels about his survival instincts, willing to strike anyone in his path.

These scenes make the audience wonder and question, “what information from the main character is being held from us?” Movies shouldn’t just have the watchers have clear answers. A good film should make the audience jump through hoops till the truth is revealed. 

Finally, the biggest surprise is the constant questioning of Daniels’s partner Aule. Nothing is wrong until his partner leaves during an interrogation of a patient; she writes “run” in Daniels’s book. Another instance is when Daniels finds himself being questioned by an inmate on how long he’s worked with Aule and if he can trust him. 

All the paths Daniels ran to get closer to his answers led to a surprising development at the end. Finally, questions are answered, and if you want to discover them, log into Netflix and watch it and you’ll be in for a treat.

Source: Whatculture.com