By Riley Dauber
As part of their month-long schedule of events for Black History Month, Washington College’s Black Student Union invited Kameron Fields to speak about intersectionalism on Thursday, Feb. 9.
The event, hosted in Hynson Lounge, was co-sponsored by the Office of Intercultural Affairs and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
“We always wanted to work with [the Office of Intercultural Affairs], and I was aware that they had resources or connections, and they always wanted to work with us,” BSU President senior Mariama Keita said. “This year [we] really came along with just collaborating with different organizations and seeing what works and what does not work.”
For example, BSU collaborated with dining hall staff for a kickoff dinner and will also host a Black History Month closing dinner on Feb. 28 to end the month. Other collaborations included the Rose O’Neill Literary House for a Frederick Douglass reading on Feb. 14, and ShoreFit for a self-care yoga class on Feb. 15.
The inspiration for Fields’ talk, titled “What’s the Tea, Cis?” came from prior versions of the event.
“In 2019…we had a ‘What’s the Tea, Sis?’ [event] which was about womanhood, and momentum for different women in the community. That was one of the honest conversations…that we held as a community,” Keita said.
Keita and other BSU members wanted to focus on intersectionality for one of their events, specifically how different identities can make up a single person and how those identities overlap and interact.
“Intersectionality is very important because no one person has the same experiences,” Keita said. “You can be Black, which is one thing, but then also being gay is a different thing. But then putting both together…there are different hardships or hurdles. You may be faced with [what] others may not necessarily be faced with.”
Keita and the rest of the BSU executive board wanted to open up these conversations and encourage those in attendance to listen to what others have to say and take part in the conversation and share their experiences.
The event was designed to create a safe space where attendees could ask Fields questions or just listen and engage in the conversation.
Fields is the diversity, equity, and inclusion leader for the Gore technology division at W.L Gore and Associates.
After introducing himself, Fields opened up the floor to discussions and questions. Some club leaders asked how they can make their spaces more inclusive, as well as how to discuss issues of intersectionality both in a club setting and in the classroom.
Fields also emphasized the importance of “trying to be inclusive in how you are speaking to people and [being] inclusive in settings where you are bringing people together.”
According to Fields, meeting in a space with gender neutral bathrooms and using inclusive, non-gendered language are all positive steps to take to create an inclusive and welcoming space.
Fields also discussed his own gender identity during the talk, which helped create an encouraging and open space for students to discuss their own experiences.
“There is no such thing as actions or clothing or anything that makes you a gender. Your gender is yours,” Fields said.
The event was an opportunity for students to talk about their own identities and experiences. Fields answered questions and provided advice, endeavoring to create an air of acceptance.
“You are a human being and just by existing, you are worthy of being treated with care and love and respect,” Fields said. “Being able to see the value within yourself without an expectation of perfection or somebody else’s expectations. Just focus on how you feel within yourself, and only comparing yourself to previous versions of yourself.”
The last BSU event of the month is the Black History Month Showcase titled “Lift Every Voice and Sing: A Celebration of Black History and Culture.” The event will be held on Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. in the Alonzo G. and Virginia Gent Decker Theatre. Performers will read slam poetry, sing songs, and showcase a step performance for all in attendance. The event is open to students and members of the Chestertown community.
Photo by Olivia Long
Photo Caption: Kameron Fields delivers talk regarding intersectionality.