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Celebrating Black History Month at GRCC

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By Braeden Pelton

To highlight Black History Month, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion will be hosting multiple events going through the month of February to celebrate and get students together. 

The remaining events and their descriptions are as follows, details were provided by ODEI Assistant Director Jamillya Hardley. 

First up is a talk with this month’s keynote speaker, Jazz McKinney. They are the executive director of the Grand Rapids Pride Center and have a lot to offer in this talk as a Black, Indigenous, and Queer person. 

McKinney will be discussing how they exist in so many different spaces. “They’ll be bringing their full self into this space and how that aligns with the work that they’re doing and how they exist in a lot of spaces, things that they have experienced both negatively and positively,” Hardley said.

McKiney will be speaking on campus at the Applied Technology Center in room 168 on Feb. 9 at 4 p.m.

Valentine’s Day features “A Black Woman’s Survival Kit”. “We are inviting some of the Black women that work here at the GRCC campus and ask some questions about what it’s like to be a woman of color in Grand Rapids.” Hardley said.

The speaker lineup will be released in a couple of days and will include a variety of faculty and staff from different departments. It’s a virtual event held at 4 p.m. Feb.14.

Next up is the Silent Disco at the Raider Grille` on Thursday, Feb. 16 at 4 p.m. Hardley described the disco as “Really just a time to disconnect from our everyday life of school, work, seriousness and just kind of celebrate being in the same space and engage in a social gathering.” 

There will be music from genres including R&B, hip hop, and more. Along with food, arts and crafts projects, games, a photo booth, and other activities.

Lastly is another virtual event this time on Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 4 p.m., “The Black Male Narrative.”  Similar to the previous virtual event, the ODEI staff will be inviting Black men from around campus to speak about their experience, how that connects to their community, and how they’ve coped and worked through challenging times. The speaker lineup will be released soon.

When asked about which events or what aspects of the month she is most excited for, Hardley said, “I think just being able to meet and see different students and create spaces where students are invited to come and kind of be their true selves. I think that aspect of it is what I’m very excited for.” 

The Collegiate also asked Hardley about the importance of keeping events like these going when politicians in other parts of the country are attempting to censor the subject of Black history. 

“It’s important (to make) students know that there are people on this campus who are very interested in the same things they’re interested in, and want to meet them where they’re at and create that space,” Hardley said. 

“It’s important to create the space, it’s important that students are going to be impacted by it,” Hardley said. “We see things happening all over the world, and even in our own backyard yard being here in Grand Rapids there is so much happening and it’s making an impact and I don’t want students to ever feel like they’re silenced.” 

If you are interested in any of these events, all pages to RSVP are linked above. These, and other events can be found on Raider Connect. Have a question? You can reach out to the ODEI staff at ODEI@grcc.edu.

This post was edited on Feb. 7 to correct the spelling of “Jazz McKinney”. 

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