Cultural Identity Center
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.” -Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.
The center exists to cultivate beloved community and is rooted in self-love, intercultural comradery, and social justice engagement.
The cultivation of beloved community requires whole-self presence and whole-hearted active participation in creating inclusive attitudes and environments. As members of this community we are deeply committed to working together towards equity, justice, and belonging for ALL and to honoring the differences we discover in ourselves and each other along the way. Moreover, we are committed to the disruption of dominant narratives that reinforce structural inequalities and the exploration of more loving and just alternatives.
In an effort to create a warm, supportive and vibrant home for community members from marginalized locations and their allies, the center is designated for anti-oppression oriented activities and critical consciousness-raising, and any group wishing to use this space must use it for such purposes.
The center is home to a social justice-oriented branch of the Allen Ginsburg Library and the many events, groups, and offerings of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion such as
- Weekly meetings for the student-focused groups which were founded on a need for community among shared marginalized identities and allies
- Gatherings of book clubs
- Community Dialogues
- Diversity Team retreats
- Community Potlucks
- Film Screenings of the Critical Consciousness Series
- Peer Mentorship Program base
- Intimate conversations about race, sexual-orientation, nationality, gender identity, ability, and other marginalized locations as the need arises
- Future Cohort activities
- Weekly and bi-weekly meetings of the Coalition for Cultural Transformation working groups
Rather than deeming the Center a “safe space,” we rely on the framework articulated by Arao and Clemens (2013) and regard the Center to be a brave space. So often safety is conflated with comfort and the very concept can be used to reify they dynamics of privilege and oppression. Instead, we agree with the authors that we “have a responsibility to foster a learning environment that supports…the challenging work of authentic engagement with regard to issues of identity, oppression, power and privilege” and that this work “requires…risk, difficulty, controversy” which can be seen as “incompatible with safety” (p. 138-9). Moreover, we want the Center to be a place that inspires community members to be brave, to venture beyond the confines of their comfort zones, and to show up willing to “[participate] fully and truthfully” (139). To that end we have established the following Ground Rules for the Center in hopes that community members will risk holding each other accountable for creating and maintaining an ever-more-inclusive environment.
- The foundation of all else is RESPECT – respect yourself, respect your community members, respect the space, respect Naropa.
- RESPECT one another’s voices, intelligence, bodies, space, and right to make one’s own choices. We agree with the aforementioned authors (Aao and Clemens, 2013) that “violence of any kind—physical, emotional, and psychological—is antithetical to the aims of social justice” (139). To that end, we welcome people from all backgrounds, but do not condone attitudes or behaviors that create social alienation or perpetuate oppression, such as reinforcement of stereotypes; discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, race, class, nationality, religion, language, ability, citizen status, and/or age; hate speech; stigmatization: the process whereby individuals are labeled with marginalizing characteristics, such as “deviant,” “crazy,” etc.; ostracism; or bullying. Address one another with gender pronouns and other language self-determined by that person.
- Own your intentions and your impact (Arao and Clemens, 2013).
- View conflict as an opportunity for growth and repair.
- Treat the space as if you are a visitor in a loved one’s home because you are. Clean up after yourself, return items where you found them, follow check-out procedures if you wish to borrow anything, and do not alter the space in any way without permission from Diversity and Inclusion staff. The space is to be used for building community, connecting, gathering, relaxing, meeting, conversing, reading, and engaging in a variety of other low-impact activities.
- Share the space. Be cognizant of how much space you are using physically and with your voice. Non-students may be invited to the space by a student as guests for a particular meeting or activity but should be mindful not to overstay their visit. Student hosts are held responsible for their visitors.
- The Community Code of Conduct (see student handbook via myNaropa) also applies in this space including Prohibited Student Conduct.
In short: In integrity with Naropa’s commitment to diversity and founding vision to create a welcoming environment, the “Cultural Identity Center” provides a much needed safe haven for community members with marginalized identities and their allies. Visibly located and accessible, the Center is a warm and inclusive environment which fosters self-love, intercultural comradery, and community engagement.