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 make sure their brothers, 'bristas,' and sisters were affirmed and represented holistically in a safe space that proactively 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 worked; 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), helped foster an environment that promoted education on external 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.

Morehouse Safe Space took out time to acknowledge their community sponsors, all of whom are valuable resources to the LGBT community, which included The Gentlemen’s Foundation, NAESM, AID Atlanta, The Counter Narrative Project and Lambda Legal.

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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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.
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Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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Everyone Should Experience Working In Fast Food Or Retail

Working in fast food was definitely not sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, but I'm so glad I did it.

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I know these jobs aren't glamorous. In fact, most days I looked forward to clocking out before I had even clocked in. I always secretly rolled my eyes when an angry customer droned on and on about how entitled he or she was. Though I can name a lot of bad things that happened on the job, it wasn't all horrible. As I reflect on my time working in fast food, I realize how much having that job really taught me and how grateful I am to have had that experience. I really think everyone should work in fast food or retail at some point, and here's why:

You make some great friends from work. I get it, sometimes your co-workers are royal jerks or flat out creeps. You see your name on the schedule next to theirs and immediately try switching with someone else. I've been there. However, I have worked with some amazing people as well.

Every time I worked with one girl in particular, we laughed for entire shifts. One night, we were singing the national anthem at the top of our lungs without realizing a customer had come in (to our surprise, she applauded our terrible screaming). Another coworker and I turned up the radio on full blast when business was slow and had dance battles. We made the most of our shifts, and I still talk to some of these people today.

You learn how to deal with difficult people. It's the age-old story: the uppity customer thinks twelve dollars for a meal combo is outrageous and Where is your manager?!

My friend and I were once called stupid and a customer said he would never come back to our restaurant to eat ever again. At the moment, we were scared out of our minds because we were both pretty new to the job. As time passed, we became more patient and tolerant and knew what triggered these particular customers. Dealing with these adversities definitely helps in the long run, particularly when it comes to doing group work with people who seem unbearable.

Your people skills increase by a landslide. I had always thought that I was great with people before I had a job. However, when I found myself in situations where I had to talk to strangers, I would grow nervous and stumble across my words from time to time. Working in an environment where communicating with others is a driving force helped me not only with improving my public speaking, but also made me more outgoing. In situations where I once backed into the corner to avoid having to talk to someone, I now take charge and initiate a conversation.

You establish a connection with regular customers. My favorite customer was named Jack. He was the sweetest old man who came in every Wednesday and Friday and bought food for himself and his wife. I quickly memorized his order, which impressed him. We shared pleasantries every time he came in, and my coworkers and I looked forward to seeing him.

Establishing a relationship with people who come in a lot helps immensely when it comes to working. It also provides a sense of accomplishment when you memorize an order. Not to mention, the customers start to like you and typically leave a generous tip!

You have stories to tell for a lifetime! Sometimes bad things happen at work. Once I was holding a hot pan and burned my arm— I still have the burn mark on my arm to prove it. My point is, it sucked at the moment, but now I look back and laugh.

One time I asked my coworker how to make soup and she replied, "Slowly, but beautifully." It was so nonchalant that I cracked up for hours. There was also a time when a customer asked me for outlandish toppings and condiments that we didn't offer. The craziest story, though, was the drug deal that went down in our public restrooms. My coworker and I obviously could not leave our station and follow these people into the bathroom, so we were pretty much defenseless. Nobody got hurt or anything, so it made for a great story.

Working in fast food was definitely not sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, but I'm so glad I did it. It made me more independent and outgoing and gave me memories I'll never forget.

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