Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Energizing family-like discussions goal of new Hopes & Fears monthly series

The kitchen table seems to be the place where the real conversations happen in a family. It’s a communal space. Everyone eats. Everyone has a place. There’s always room for one more person to join.

That shared space and sense of community is the driving force behind Hopes & Fears, a new monthly series designed to amplify the voices of our Black students and their families, our faculty and our alumni. With the goal of engaging an entire community, these monthly evening sessions will bring together a wealth of voices from within the Black community to create a space where all can have restorative conversations that reveal both our hopes and fears. 

The first session will be Tuesday, June 30 at 6 p.m. and will focus on Black youth. The session will be live streamed on CGCC’s YouTube channel.

“We were thinking about all of the black and brown students that we serve and how they might be feeling during these unprecedented times,” said Michael Greene, CGCC’s director of Student Life & Leadership team. “We wanted to provide a safe space for them and to support them.  A space to demonstrate to them that the college cares about them as they engage in their communities. To encourage them that they are not walking through this alone - they are supported by allies, peers, and advocates throughout our college. “

“Our goal with this monthly series is to initiate conversations that truly reflect our experience today,” Greene added.

The leaders of the series felt the responsibility to engage with the “community” to discuss the history, the pain and the systemic injustice. More importantly, to create a dialogue for change and hope. Through this need to engage in a conversation for healing - a virtual series was created. 

“History and current events show that without awareness nothing gets solved,” said Dr. Belinda Ramos, CGCC psychology faculty. “Therefore, it is a privilege to be a part of a community that comprehends, in order for all lives to matter, we must understand that Black Lives Matter.

“Now, more than ever we need to join together at a figurative table, where our youth, our future leaders, can face their fears head-on and share their hopes and dreams for a healed world. At times the discussions may provoke discomfort. But I hope we can be OK with uncomfortable feelings and use the conversations as opportunities to model mental strength and reinforce what CGCC values most: creating learning experiences and growth opportunities for our diverse communities.”

“I look forward to the next step and doing the next right thing in our very own backyard - the East Valley.”

The series will explore the state of our nation, injustice and systematic racism, and its impact on the Black community. The goal of the series is to promote dialogue aimed at fostering hope and healing while also exploring ways that our community can collectively move forward. 

“I fear that minorities (specifically Americans of African descent), women and under-served students avoid STEM careers because they don’t feel welcomed,” said Nichole Neal,  Physical Sciences and Engineering faculty member. “They don't feel seen and many don't think they matter.  
“In order to effect change, we must understand what we fear,” said Neal.  “I am hopeful that these ‘kitchen-table conversations’ will result in change. I want people to know that you not only have a seat at this table, but you sit in a chair that has legs. This means you are welcomed and you will be seen! You matter and you will be heard!”

Make sure you pull up a chair at the kitchen table and join us for conversations each month.

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