Welcome back to the 255! This week we wanted to share with you some of the cool and exciting activities in our own classrooms. That’s right! Another awesome segment of #InClassToday is coming your way!! In this post, we are featuring the integration of student clubs into academic spaces. Specifically MMC’s own Social Sciences’ Assembly (SSA) took initiative to visit Professor O’Connor’s Foundations of Social and Political Inquiry course. One of SSA’s goals is to combine student-led discussions and organizations into the classroom. This is a reflection of SSA’s mission to increase students’ voices and involvement in our social science departments. We also reached out to SSA’s co-presidents, Dorian Provencher (’22) & Tshiamo Ramela (’22), to get the inside scoop on their guest appearance in the classroom.

The Social Sciences’ Assembly is an older Marymount student organization that was recently revived in Fall 2019. As part of the SSA constitution, their mission is central in “be(ing) an extension of the Division of Social Sciences and be(ing) an avenue for students to explore issues and topics within the field. The club seeks to provide a safe space for students to discuss any relevant material to the division outside of a class setting.” Since the college’s transition to online learning, SSA has partnered closely with the Politics and Human Rights and International Studies departments to ensure that students’ voices are seriously taken into consideration. As a result, SSA facilitated and organized many PHR/IS events that took place throughout the Fall 2020 semester. SSA also partnered with the social sciences departments to orchestrate events for the Spring 2021 semester and coordinate guest speakers for the Sojourner Truth Suffrage Academy. Check out the interview with Tshiamo and Dorian below to hear more about their insights into the organization and their hopes for the outcome of this in-class collaboration.

  • What made you want to revive/lead the Social Sciences’ Assembly?

The social science department at Marymount is one of the smaller communities at the college, however it is arguably the most impactful. Through the UN program, the Bedford Hill program, and others it was important to give the department a uniform platform through SSA. This is just one of the reasons SSA was important to revive.

Tshiamo Ramela / Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Major / Class of 2022

My motivation to revive this student organization came out of a need to bridge the collaboration processes between faculty and students at MMC. I believe that these connections are crucial. After all we are here to learn and I feel like being a part of the collaborative process to design our curriculum and events is crucial to students’ passion and academic success. Being the Co-President of SSA has really given me a position to advocate for the interests and needs of my fellow peers and I have greatly enjoyed my role.

Dorian Provencher / Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Major / Class of 2022
  • What is your motivation in working closely with the PHR/IS departments?

I was motivated to work closely with the PHR/IS faculty because I think its crucial that students voices are heard in educational institutions. In creating the events for both this and last semester, Tshiamo and I consistently advocated for programs and events that our fellow students showed interest in. For example, Alex Vitale presented in a PHR/IS event last November about abolitionist politics and defunding the police. Based off of conversations with our peers, Tshiamo and I took the idea of Vitale coming to MMC to the faculty of our departments. Luckily, one of our professors had a connection and was able to get Vitale to come speak to us. Another important aspect of the continued dialogue between SSA and the social science faculty is our ability to communicate the needs and expectation of our students to the professors. It allows us to clearly articulate our expectations and desires for the department, events, and curriculum. Then, we work closely with the faculty to ensure that our wishes become realities.

Dorian Provencher / Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Major / Class of 2022

One of my motivations in working with the social sciences department is to represent the needs and desires of our students. Social science students are one of the smaller group of students at Marymount, but we also deserve representation and advocacy with our department and the entire college.

Tshiamo Ramela / Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Major / Class of 2022
  • Why did you choose to integrate SSA activities into Professor O’Connor’s PHR 101 course?

I think it’s important that we pioneer conversations about what is knowledge and break down the misleading norm that it can only be produced in a traditional classroom setting. For example, I feel like the times I have learned the most are in dialogues with my fellow students. Sure it’s always informative to read about theories and ideas from a book. But to apply these concepts in fruitful conversations with my peers is much more preferred, in my opinion. Another reason Tshiamo and I chose to integrate SSA into the classroom was based of the impeccably timed schedule this semester. Tshiamo and I are in a class together entitled Research Methods in the Social Sciences that takes place during the same time period as Professor O’Connor’s PHR 101. We thought this opportunity would be a great way to integrate an advanced level course with Juniors and Seniors with an introductory course with Freshmen and Sophomores. Not only does this provide a space to have conversations with a diverse range of ages and social science experience, but it also offers a way for Upperclassmen to give their insights or advice to students who are just starting the program.

Dorian Provencher / Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Major / Class of 2022

I think the contents of the PHR 101 closes, closely relate to many of the goals that SSA is trying to achieve. The collaboration is intended to connect the theoretical to the practical.

Tshiamo Ramela / Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Major / Class of 2022
  • What challenges has your organization faced in the new virtual spaces?

One of our challenges is definitely participation. Encouraging students to attend our events over Zoom can be a struggle, as many students may face Zoom-fatigue. That something we’re looking to improve over the semester.

Tshiamo Ramela / Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Major / Class of 2022

Participation has definitely been a struggle in the virtual spaces. When we were in person it was so much easier to just grab your friends before events started, but as we all know, it’s not that easy over Zoom. I believe we as students are often super tired of Zoom and as a result it is much harder to participate in extracurricular activities. SSA’s exec board addressed this issue by actively trying to make events more participatory. I hope we see greater student turn out through the course of the semester.

Dorian Provencher / Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Major / Class of 2022
  • What has been one of your favorite activities so far?

My favorite events have been the talks and representation of Native people. And would also say, the collaboration between the professors. We’ve definitely gotten to know each other more intimately.

Tshiamo Ramela / Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Major / Class of 2022

One of my favorite events was the “How to Defend Democracy” program we hosted along side Professor Mueller of the IS department and Professor Annabel Hogg of the PHR department. It was amazing to enter a space full of students and faculty alike that prioritized prevented the spread of authoritarianism in the United States. We discussed ways in which we as comrades could actively participated in preventing a dictatorship both in virtual and physical spaces. I think I enjoyed this event because it was so relevant to both domestic affairs in the United States as well as larger pressing international issues.

Dorian Provencher / Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Major / Class of 2022

We would like to thank Tshiamo and Dorian for sharing their insights and experiences in SSA. We highly encourage all of our readers to go check out their Instagram @socscimmc. We look forward to hearing about other events that SSA plans on posting in the future. Be sure to keep an eye out on our page too for upcoming events in the Suffrage Academy. As always, a gentle reminder to be kind, stay safe, and get involved in the awesome student organizations in our community!

Welcome back to the 255! In honor of concluding Black History Month, we wanted to highlight an important new book from emerging scholar and former first parter of Stockton, CA, Anna Malaika Tubbs. Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr, and James Baldwin are some of the most famous figures of the long endeavor to combat racial injustice in the US. Three individuals that are less well-known in the history books are their mothers. Tubbs seeks to explain how Louise Little, Alberta King, and Berdis Baldwin shaped the future of the United States in her new book The Three Mothers. We’ve got all the details, plus articles and podcasts below to learn more information about Anna Malaika Tubbs and her work. Check it out!

Anna Malaika Tubbs is a force to be reckoned with. Tubbs is an activists, educator, scholar, and now author! She received her undergraduate degree from Stanford University and is currently a PhD candidate in Sociology at the University of Cambridge. Throughout her childhood, Tubbs grew up in many countries abroad, namely Dubai, Mexico, Sweden, Estonia, and Azerbaijan. Inspired by her mother’s women’s rights advocacy work, Anna now uses her intersectional lens throughout her work to educate and advocate for the rights of women of color. She has also participated in fundraising for women’s clinics and other organizations that share her passion for social justice and advocacy. Finally, Anna also works as a diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant who has worked with companies and individuals interested in progressing their DEI goals. Follow her on Twitter @annas_tea_ and learn more about her biography and work here.

Malcolm X said “the mother is the first teacher of the child. The message she gives that child, that child gives to the world.” Unfortunately, it is not hard to understand how the work of these three women have been overlooked by the major voices of U.S. history. Tubbs’ book rewrites the narrative to feature the crucial impact these women had on the making of the modern United States. A New York Times article recently highlighted a review of Tubbs’ work in which they explain “[Tubbs] aims to correct [the] erasure [of these mothers from history] by piecing together what she can from the ‘margins and footnotes’ of books, speeches, funeral programs, and letters.”

Tubbs’ book, out now, is already being lauded by critiques. The Three Mothers is already being reviewed by major magazines and newspapers as one of the best “21 Books to Look Forward to in 2021!” (Fortune Magazine), one of the “Badass Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2021” (Badass Women’s Bookclub), and as an “eye-opening, engrossing read” by New York Times Bestselling author, Brit Bennett. The Three Mothers was also the topic of discussion on one of our favorite podcasts, Getting Curious, hosted by Jonathan Van Ness (from Queer Eye, another fav!) Tubbs joins Van Ness to discuss her new book as well as give the audience a deeper look into her studies of Black motherhood. Listen to the episode entitled How Can We Honor Black Motherhood? wherever you find your pods.

We hope you enjoyed this segment of #AcademiaIRL. It’s important to notice works of academia in the “real world”, and applaud those who work beyond the hallowed halls of colleges and universities to continue learning and educating. Be sure to look into Anna Malaika Tubbs’ book, The Three Mothers, and tells us your thoughts and takeaways. We will see you in our next segment on the 255! As always a gentle reminder to be kind, stay safe, and read books and work of black women!!

Welcome back to the 255! We hope that you all are settling into the new semester’s rhythm. This week’s blog post highlights the celebration of the upcoming Lunar New Year. We hope this post gives you more insight into the celebration of the Lunar New Year and the culture it’s part of. We’ll also debunk some common misconceptions regarding the holiday and demonstrates the various ways individuals can celebrate.

Although the holiday season in the United States refers to the months of November and December, many Asian countries anticipate another season of holidays soon after the start of the calendar year. The Lunar Year traditionally falls between January 20th and February 20th, depending on (you guessed it!) the cycle of moon. This holiday is referred to as the Lunar New Year as it marks the first new moon of the lunisolar calendar. An article in the New York Times discusses the difference between the Solar and Lunar year by adding:

A solar year –– the time it takes Earth to orbit the sun –– lasts around 365 days, while a lunar year, or 12 full cycles of the Moon, is roughly 354 . . . To correct for seasonal drift, the Chinese, Hindu, Jewish and many other calendars are lunisolar. In these calendars, a month is still defined by the moon, but an extra month is added periodically to stay close to the solar year.

Steph Yin

In China, many families kick off the holiday season of Lunar New Years’ Eve with a familial reunion dinner. Many traditional dishes are specific to the Lunar New Year and can be seen below. The end of Lunar New Years’ Eve typically concludes with the Lantern Festival –– also showcased below. The main themes of the celebration are fortune, happiness, and health.

One common misconception regarding the Lunar New Year is that it is only observed in Chinese culture. Many different cultures and countries celebrate the New Year such as South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, and Tibet. The popularity of the term “Chinese New Year” came from the many Chinese-Americans in the United States. Although in China and other countries, the holiday is referred to as simply the “New Year,” Chinese-Americans all over the United States collectively coined the term “Chinese New Year.”

Typical celebrations of the Lunar New Year include many fireworks, the Dragon Dance, the distribution of red envelopes, and other festive activities. The red envelopes are traditionally given from parents to children or to anyone who is single/unmarried. The tradition became popularized through an older version of the custom in which coins were distributed as gifts to ward off evil spirits. People often participate in this activity by wishing people “Gong Xi Fa Cái” which directly translate to “make money in the New Year.” Firecrackers, similar to the customs of the coins, are used to ward off an ancient monster called Nian. Although participants are equally satisfied with confetti poppers. Finally, the Dragon Dance is a key feature to the New Year. In addition to the most commonly known Dragon Dance, participants all over the world have their own traditional dances such as the Lion Dance, Phoenix Dance, and the Fan Dance.

The Lunar New Year is a 15 day-long celebration full of fun activities and events. The 2021 Lunar New Year will start the year of the Ox! We wish all of our MMC community a happy Lunar New Year. Reach out to us on Instagram and share the ways you and your loved ones celebrate. Lastly, as always, a friendly reminder to be kind, stay safe, and Xin Nian Kuai Le!!

More info on the Lunar New Year:

Welcome back to the 255! Fresh winter snow outside, a mug of piping hot chocolate in your hand, and the warmth of a blanket or two; what could possibly be more romantic? February is often viewed as “a month of romance” all centered around the internationally celebrated Valentine’s Day. Each year couples all around the globe attempt to muster together a series of activities that honor their romance and love for each other. But why? In reality, who is this notorious St. Valentine that we all learned about in elementary school? How has Valentine’s day changed throughout history? And why is the holiday centered about romance and love? Yupp, you guessed it. This post highlights the history of Valentine’s Day in our efforts to debunk some common misconceptions and share with you the reality behind this annual holiday.

The tradition of Valentine’s Day dates back to its predecessor, Lupercalia. Lupercalia is a Pagan festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman God of Agriculture. This holiday took place in the ides of February to celebrate the changing of the seasons. Often through sacrificing livestock, participants of Lupercalia would honor the Roman God, Faunus, and wish for fertility in the upcoming harvest. In the Middle Ages, the Christian Church deemed the celebration of Lupercalia unholy and barbaric. As a result, the holiday was “christianized” and the theme of love and romance replaced its traditional roots. Many Europeans believed February to be the start bird mating season and thus justified the new thematic holiday. Finally, religious authorities named the celebration after Saint Valentine which popularized the official title “Valentine’s Day.” The first recorded work mentioning the holiday was Geoffrey Chaucer’s Parliament of Fowls.

But who was Saint Valentine? Although the historical figure, St. Valentine, is commonly mentioned in a single telling of a medieval romantic, the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. The Church recognizes three different Saint Valentines. The first defied King Claudius II’s law prohibiting the marriage of men in the military by secretly holding ceremonies for young couples wishing to be wed. When Claudius discovered Valentine’s secret endeavors, he was immediately sentenced to death. The second St. Valentine was a bishop in Europe, living in the same time period as Claudius II. He too was eventually sentenced to death and beheaded. Finally, the last recognized Valentine assisted Christians escaping Roman prisons. He was said to have fallen in love with the daughter of one of the prison guards. Unshockingly, this Valentine, too, was sentenced to death. Before he died, he wrote a letter to his young love in which he famously signed From your Valentine at the end. Whether or not any of these stories are true, the character of St. Valentine quickly became a reflection of heroism and romance in defiance of power figures.

Through historic poetry and literature, the connection between romance and Valentine’s Day solidified. The earliest recognition of Valentine’s Day as an annual celebration of love is in the Charter of the Court of Love by Charles VI of France in 1400. Since then, references to Valentine’s Day became common in poetry and literature. A reference even made it into Shakespeare’s Hamlet in which he writes:

“To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day, All in the morning betime, And I a maid at your window, To be your Valentine. Then up he rose, and donn’d his clothes, And dupp’d the chamber-door; Let in the maid, that out a maid Never departed more.”

Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5, William Shakespeare

And through the expansion of Western thought through colonialism and capitalism, the holiday has become internationally recognized as an annual celebration of love and romance. In honor the holiday this year, we wanted to share with you one of our favorite love poems.

“i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)” – E.E. Cummings

No matter how you celebrate Valentine’s Day, all of us here at the 255 wish you and your loved ones the best. We hope you enjoyed this post and walk away with a greater understanding of the history and reality behind Valentine’s Day. Instead of focusing on the stereotypical notions of romantic relationships and gift giving, we encourage you to self reflect on your definition of love and joy and celebrate accordingly. Lastly, as always, a gentle reminder to be kind, stay safe, and constantly give love and joy both to yourself and others.

Welcome back to the 255! We hope that all of our students are settling into the new semester. We are excited to kick off the Spring term with many interesting events hosted by the PHR/IS department. Be sure to check out our Instagram page to keep up with the goings-on of our Division. This week, in honor of Black history month, we wanted to highlight the incredible playwright, August Wilson. Wilson’s Century Cycle (a.k.a. the Pittsburg Cycle) tells the stories of African American experience throughout each decade of the 20th Century. We will also showcase the adaptation of his plays into films, headed by actor Denzel Washington. Let’s jump right in!

August Wilson was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1945. Wilson excelled as a student throughout his elementary and secondary education. After being accused of plagiarism in the 10th grade, Wilson dropped out of school and entered the workforce. Later in his life, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh honored him with the award of an “honorary high school diploma” based on his extensive presence at the facility. Wilson’s literary interests focused on black writers and history, highlighting the work of Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, and Arna Bontemps, among others. Wilson’s early writing career focused on poetry as he submitted entries to local newspapers and magazines and performed at bars and restaurants. He went on to co-found the Black Horizon Theater in 1968. His first works were performed at this theater, often times produced and directed by Wilson himself. Throughout most of the 80s, Wilson produced many of his famous plays such as Jitney, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and Fences. Wilson’s work demonstrates the African American experience throughout the 20th century and focused on the examination of the human condition. Other themes in his works included questions of systematic racism, race relations, identity, migration, and discrimination.

As noted above, Wilson’s Century Cycle is composed of ten major plays that detail the African American experience in the 20th Century. All but one of the Century Cycle plays are set in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, PA, an area that was historically consisted of black neighborhoods. Below is a list provided by the August Wilson Theatre Company as well as the corresponding decade in which the plays take place.

  • Gem of the Ocean – 1900s
  • Joe Turner’s Come and Gone – 1910s
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – 1920s
  • The Piano Lesson – 1930s
  • Seven Guitars – 1940s
  • Fences – 1950s
  • Two Trains Running – 1960s
  • Jitney – 1970s
  • King Hedley II – 1980s
  • Radio Golf – 1990s

Not only did Wilson’s work focus on the experience of African Americans throughout U.S. history, but his storytelling abilities famously deter from Western, Euro-centric traditions. Upon his death in 2005 two of his plays, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and Fences have been adapted to the big screen, expanding Wilson’s work beyond the Broadway stage. Actor/producer, Denzel Washington, has taken on the project of turning all Wilson’s Century Cycle plays into movie titles. In an interview with CBS News, Washington expressed his interest in continuing telling these stories by saying

This is perfect, you know? It’s not hard. It’s a joy, it’s an opportunity, it’s a privilege, really, to shepherd [this] material. You know, no pressure. The pressure’s not on me. The pressure is on the filmmakers.

– Denzel Washington, December 11, 2020

The Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning August Wilson has produced many iconic onstage performances starring actors like James Earl Jones, Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne, and Samuel L Jackson. Viola Davis portrays the titular character Ma, in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which debuted on Netflix in late December 2020. In an interview, Davis expressed her gratitude and admiration for the work of August Wilson, by saying

I think he captures our humor as Black people. He captures our humor, our vulnerabilities, our tragedies, our trauma. And he humanizes us. And he allows us to talk.

Viola Davis, December 11, 2020

With the much needed, ongoing conversations about racism’s mark in U.S. society, the crucial impact of Wilson’s work to the arts and media is apparent. We encourage all of you to read and watch Wilson’s work. We look forward to seeing more movies in the Century Cycle Project released in the near future. Be sure to check out Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Fences on streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Max. Reach out to us on Insta and let us know your thoughts and takeaways. Lastly, we want to remind our readers to be kind, stay safe, and read books by Black authors!

Good Morning, Griffins. WELCOME BACK to the 255! We hope that you all had a wonderful January break. We are excited to see all of you back in the virtual classroom, as well as those embarking on in person classes! We also wanted to promote some of the upcoming events of our Division and fill you in on how you can get involved!

Firstly, we want to highlight the amazing student led organizations offered within our division. Each of these clubs are amazing ways to actively participate in the MMC community and know about our college’s current events. The Social Sciences’ Assembly and Bedford Hills Club are two student led organizations that actively advocate for student led discussions and events around social justice and activism. These clubs partner closely with the Politics & Human Rights and International Studies departments to host amazing guest speakers and events. Be sure to check out both of their Instagram pages to stay updated on some awesome events. @socscimmc & @bedfordhills_mmc.

Secondly, speaking of the social sciences, the PHR/IS departments are hosting the Soujourner Truth Suffrage Academy this semester. The academy is a combination of content both in and out of the classroom to honor the centennial celebration of the Women’s Suffrage in the United States. Another goal of the program is to decolonize the discussions of feminism and look beyond traditional Western, Eurocentric stories of the feminist movement. To read more about the Suffrage Academy check out our previous post on the 255 [here]. This first week of classes is a great time to add and drop courses, if need be. Check out the Suffrage Academy’s list of courses to see if any of them fulfill your AIPs. Finally, follow us on Instagram @humsoc_mmc to stay up to date on the PHR/IS event series.

Also, to highlight our wonderful English and World Literature’s department, we would like to inform you of their upcoming semesters events. Although their Spring 2021 calendar is not currently published, the EWL department never fails to engage students through interactive seminars and discussions around reading world literature and creative writing. These events are often time great opportunities to learn more about the specific areas of expertise of the EWL Faculty, and showcase student work. Our Instagram page, @ewlmmc, will post alerts regarding more information about these programs as the semester progresses.

Finally, we wanted to send you all a reminder to care of yourself this upcoming semester. As we are sure you are aware, these are unprecedented times. Now more than ever it is crucial to keep a continued dialogue between your mind and body. Self-care is SOOO important. Your academic success is important to us, yes. But health and well being should always be our top priority, even and especially in the chaos. Take care of yourselves, and each other!

We look forward to bringing you new segments of #FacultyFeatures, #StudentSpotlights, and a new blog series to be released soon entitled #AcademiaIRL. We are incredibly excited about the ongoing activities of our Division and are eager to share these events, posts, and spotlights with you each week. Again, we’re sending a WARM welcome back, especially during a snow storm, and wish you all the best in the upcoming Spring semester. As always, we would like to remind everyone to be kind, stay safe, and enjoy your first week back at MMC!