Students Host First Queer Solidarity Brunch at Morehouse College

Students Host First Queer Solidarity Brunch at Morehouse College

MC Safe Space Welcomes the Freshmen Class with Brunch
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On August 20, 2016 in the African American Hall of Fame, Morehouse College Safe Space organized and made history with the very first Queer Solidarity Brunch and the launch of ADODI Scholarship at Morehouse College. As the only gender/sexuality diverse collective at Morehouse, MC Safe Space executive board wanted to ensure that their brothers, 'bristas,' and sisters were affirmed and represented holistically in a safe space that proactively welcomed their individuality and identity.

Students from the Atlanta University Center, Georgia State, Georgia Tech, and other Atlanta colleges were all in attendance. For many years, Queer, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Gender nonconforming and Transgender students of color have been pushed to the margins when entering and returning to their respective institutions of higher learning, many of these negative factors have historically tried to erase and marginalize LGBTQ students of color.

The Queer Solidarity Brunch and the launch of the ADODI Scholarship were a seminal clap-back to the heteropatriarchy that has been at work. The President of the organization, Ramon Johnson describes the brunch as "serving as a statement of solidarity from the Safe Space Executive Board and General Body Members to the incoming First year Class of 2020." MC Safe Space's Adodi Scholarship fund is aimed at supporting and amplifying the radical scholarship of college students in the Atlanta area who identify as queer, bisexual, transgender, gay, Lesbian and gender non-conforming.

In addition to Safe Space members and the incoming Freshmen class, a wealth of community sponsors for the event were also in attendance at the brunch, noting The Gentlemen's Foundation as a platinum sponsor for the Adodi Scholarship. The additional sponsorships from community partners such as NAESM (Gold Sponsor), AID Atlanta (Bronze Sponsor), The Counter Narrative Project (Silver Sponsor), and Lambda Legal (Bronze Sponsor), all who helped foster an environment that promoted access to education and community resources for LGBTQ college students and youth in the Atlanta area.

In a riveting opening statement by Morehouse Safe Space's President Ramon Johnson, who delivered a thorough reflection on the founding and mission of Safe Space, noting an administration in the sesquicentennial year of Morehouse College's founding. Johnson delivers the inspiration of the Queer Solidarity Brunch, reaffirming the groundwork that Safe Space has continued to lead in liberating identity.

“When you show up in a space that was historically built to affirm your blackness but fails to affirm your other identities, you must make space. In many cases, historically black institutions struggle to grapple with queerness. It's as if our historically black institutions have forgotten how “queer" it was and still is for us black folks to obtain an education in a white supremacist and heteropatriarchal society.

Making space for queer identities to flourish on these sacred campuses has been a slow and tough process. There are many narratives both told and untold regarding the traumas experienced by queer folks in educational institutions. Unfortunately, there are not enough images and narratives detailing the resistance to the dominant culture and institutional accountability that queer students and activists have done. Narratives that show the resilience queer people of color possess on these campuses. We have always existed on these campuses.

Dominant culture has tried to erase our work and our stories but we must leading this movement. I want to see more images of care free queer and trans people of color making strides to build resource centers, improving campus policies, and making curriculums more progressive. We must answer the call of our beloved ancestors : Keiron Williams, Essex Hemphill, and Marlon Riggs by picking up their tools to dismantle the walls that continue to divide and oppress us.

It is also important for administration and employees of the college to be about the business of doing this work. Queer student activists are students first and we must maintain a balance. Too often, we get so involved in campus affairs that we end up doing the work administration, faculty, and staff are supposed to be doing. Sometimes members of administration turn around and try to take credit for the fruits of our labor… our FREE labor.

Before embarking on my journey at Morehouse, I never thought I would be doing the work I do now. I never thought I would be in a place of self-love and acceptance of who I am. Safe Space helped me get to that place of healing and has helped many of us current students and alumni since its inception. Learning to love yourself while dominant culture tells you otherwise is hard work but it is necessary. Loving the body, you have, and owning all of your identities is resistance. Resistance helps to unlearn the ways in which we are taught to be afraid of each other, not trust each other, to be ashamed of our desires, and to dislike ourselves.

Expanding room for others helps us to achieve the collective liberation of our people. It allows us to have an affirming “safe space" for our beloved brothers, bristas, and sisters."


Alongside the Adodi Scholarship fund, Safe Space PR Manager, Kylan Kester, announced a call to fund the future initiatives of the organization, acknowledging upcoming plans for the return of Morehouse Pride Week, an event that garnered Safe Space a 2016 Georgia Voice Best of Atlanta nomination in the “LGBT Event of the Year category." Safe Space also announced a vision for Morehouse Pride Week that will take the event to an entire new level of art and activism, emphasizing the importance of additional support from the community to bring this vision to life.

At the brunch, Morehouse Safe Space also discussed their collaboration with the Bayard Rustin Scholar program in the upcoming 2016-2017 academic year. With plans to revitalize the activism and community engagement component of the program, Morehouse Safe Space announced an additional objective of developing the Bayard Rustin portrait fund at Morehouse, a fund initiated to create a portrait in honor of the late Bayard Rustin; a civil rights leader and organizer whose narrative was silenced amongst the prevalent homophobia and heteronormativity found in the spaces that MC Safe Space continues to challenge and deconstruct.

Following Morehouse Safe Space member Edrion Williams' riveting performance of “For My Own Protection" by Essex Hemphill, the audience also welcomed the keynote speaker, Toni- Michelle Williams. Toni - Michelle Williams is a phenomenal Trans-Activist of color who serves as the Leadership Development and Program Coordinator of the Solutions Not Punishment (SNAP) Coalition. In a powerful address, Williams delivered a message to the incoming class on the pertinent value of loving oneself in a world where our bodies are continuously devalued and dehumanized. Having Toni Michelle Williams serve as the first keynote speaker of Safe Space's Queer Solidarity Brunch was amazing. Too often, we as cisgender men forget to affirm and advocate for the lives and rights of various Black femmes, transwomen, and Gender non-conforming folks who experience violence everyday.

Having Toni Michelle Williams deliver the keynote address also served as a perfect segway to address the ways in which many institutions like Morehouse struggle with gender, and gender identity. In an effort to combat heteropatriarchy and mens violence against women, black femmes, queer, and transgender people of color.

Safe Space will be starting a petition and continue organizing to enhance the number of tangible resources available to LGBTQ students.

The Queer Solidarity Brunch, which was a preeminent success for Morehouse Safe Space, was only one of many events that the organization looks forward to executing for the academic year. With a number of upcoming events and community engagements, MC Safe Space looks forward to reclaiming and amplifying the narratives of Black and Queer millennials to liberate identity.

Interested in knowing what else Morehouse Safe Space has in store? Follow the organization on social media and make your interest known at the first general body meeting on September 1, 2016 at Morehouse College.

Cover Image Credit: @jayrayisthename

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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Odyssey, From A Creator's Point Of View

Writing for Odyssey is transitioning from the outside looking in, to the inside looking a million ways at once.

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It's 11:59 p.m. and I have two articles due tomorrow afternoon: two articles that are basically figments of my imagination at this point. When I was asked to write for Odyssey, I was ecstatic. I was a devout reader in high school and found every post so #relatable. During my short time as a "creator" for Odyssey, I've experienced what it's like to be on the other side of the articles.

Every post is not #relatable. This is a platform for anyone and everyone. I chose the articles I wanted to click on and read them, deemed them relatable, and clicked share. I, along with Odyssey's 700,000 something followers, did not go through and read every single article.

Being a creator has shown me that everyone has a voice, and by God, they're going to use it (rightfully so).

It can be disheartening at times to get what we think is a low number of page views when there are articles we don't necessarily agree with getting hundreds of Facebook shares. I don't crank out journalistic gold by any means, but being a writer isn't a walk in the park. It's stressful at times and even disappointing. Odyssey creators aren't paid, and even though it's liberating to be able to write about whatever our hearts desire, I'll be the first to admit that my life is just not that interesting.

When I first started writing for Odyssey, I vowed to never post anything basic like some things I have read in the past. If I'm going to dedicate the time it takes to write for a national platform, I'm going to publish things worth reading.

That vow is basically out the window now.

Simply stated, it's easy to write about things that are easy to write about. It's kind of like calling a Hail Mary play when it's the night before an article is due and there's been a topic in the back of your mind for days that you don't think is that great, but you think people might read. You just throw it out there and hope for the best. Being a creator gives you inside access to knowing what people are reading, what's popular, and what's working for other creators. Odyssey's demographic is not as diverse as it could or should be, so it's not hard to pick out something that the high school girl you once were will find relatable. Recently went through a breakup? Write about it. Watched a new show on Netflix? Write about it. When there's nothing holding you back, you have the freedom to literally put whatever you want online.

It's not easy coming out of your freshman year of college, one of the hardest years for any person, and being expected to whip up articles that everyone will love. Not everyone is going to love what I write. Heck, not everyone is going to like what I write. The First Amendment is a blessing and a curse. Not everyone is going to agree with you, and that's okay.

The beauty of Odyssey is that it highlights the fact that everyone DOES have a voice, and whether that voice coincides with your religious, political, or personal views isn't up to you.

You have the power to pick and choose what you want to read, relate to, and share. Remember that you have no way of knowing what every single person on the planet is going through and what they choose to write about reflects their own personal opinions, experiences, accomplishments, and hardships. Odyssey creators can spend weeks crafting articles they hope will break the Internet, but in return only get a few views. They can also pull all-nighters grasping at straws just trying to reach the minimum word requirement and end up writing the best thing since sliced bread.

I guess what I'm getting at here is that even though there are posts out there that are so easy for us to relate to, that's not always the goal for writers. We write what we feel, and if there's nothing to write about, we write what we think other people feel. The kicker is that we don't truly know what other people are feeling. You might hurt someone's feelings with your words. You might make someone cry with your story because they felt like they were alone and finally, finally, someone else feels the same way. You might trigger someone and get hateful comments. You might even change someone's life with your words.

The moral of the story is that words are pretty powerful, whether we choose to believe it or not.

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