Sagirah Shahid and Michelle Baroody

Navigating the world – and home – through film at Minnesota film festivals

“I learned about Palestine through stories, like a fairy tale,” one of the interviewees reminisced in the live-action-and-mixed-animation documentary, “The Wanted 18,” about a Palestinian town’s quest for self-determination at the beginning of the intifada and the absurd lengths the Israeli government and military went through to stop it, featured at Mizna’s 10th annual Arab Film Fest (AFF) at the St. Anthony Main Theatre earlier this month. Continue Reading

Notes from the Diversity Panels at AWP 2015

It’s about listening and humility.At the AWP conference this past Saturday, I made it a point to attend as many discussions about diversity as I could.  The conference is aimed at writers not librarians–I only dream of calling myself a writer–but I found the perspective quite valuable.  I attended panels that featured writers of color discussing their work and their experiences in the publishing world, and the conversations kept coming back to listening and humility.Can you write outside of your own experiences, including those of race, culture, and gender?  Sure.  But be aware of the complexity there. Continue Reading

Nursing to stop taking transfers

Come fall 2017, transfer students won’t be accepted into the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program on the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus. The School of Nursing is phasing out transfer enrollment for the BSN program in an effort to improve graduation rates. Though the decision has been in the works for three years, nursing students are concerned the new strategy could be a blow to the program’s diversity and limit access to the program to a group of students who tend to switch out of the program. The school will admit fewer transfers, including those from inside the University, and more incoming freshmen over the next two years, said School of Nursing Associate Dean for Academic Programs Christine Mueller. Faculty members who made the change didn’t ask for student input, she said. By fall 2017, the entire incoming BSN class at the Twin Cities campus is expected to consist of 104 freshmen admits.  The University’s Rochester campus will still accept transfers, who do the same coursework as those on the school’s flagship campus.  Administrators want to provide students with the best resources possible to ensure they graduate in four years, Mueller said, adding that students who directly enroll in the BSN program are more likely to graduate on time.  Nursing senior Karen Maldonado drafted a petition to rescind the program change and organized a public forum last week where students could air their concerns to the school’s dean, Connie Delaney. “This policy as it stands now is not helpful to the School of Nursing, the future students or the nursing profession,” she said. “But I think with the right adjustments, it can help bring down the over-four-year graduation rate and the cost of attending nursing school.” About 20 people attended the forum, mostly sophomores and juniors in the BSN program, Maldonado said. Students largely took issue with the potential for a decline in student diversity as a result of the freshman nursing guarantee. They also voiced concerns about the lack of rigor in the freshman application process compared to the transfer one.  Despite student concerns, Mueller said, the new program is still on track for implementation. Twin Cities campus instructors give lessons to BSN students on the Rochester campus via television screens, which Maldonado said is troubling to some students because it limits teacher-to-student interaction. Maldonado’s petition, which has been in circulation for about two weeks, had garnered more than 270 signatures by Wednesday. Most of the names on the petition belong to sophomores and juniors in the BSN program. One of the petition’s signers is nursing sophomore Irina Galyayeva, who transferred into the BSN program last spring. When Galyayeva first learned of the change, she didn’t think it was real. “I don’t get why they’re doing this because they can gain a lot from those transfer students,” she said. Continue Reading

White privilege 2:Psychology and pathology of entitlement

This week’s show brings back our guests and the next phase of our discussion on White Privilege (see Part One). The dynamic of hatred of a people we once enslaved is not as unusual at it may seem. This is the American Indian experience and the African-American experience. The psychology and pathology of refusing to accept what it means to be white pervades the culture still. In the wake of the recent annual conference on white privilege* in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, TTT delves deeper into the issue of unconscious entitlement that is so much a part of the American psyche, and the most difficult to extricate from our national inclination toward the colonial European view of race as well as understand the oppositional subculture we’ve created from the dregs of slavery over 200, 300, 400 years of American history. Continue Reading

Mn/DOT’s diversity efforts challenged

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) in February reported their 2007-08 performance on Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) contracting and women and minority participation on projects. “There is a federal formula that we must follow,” said Mn/DOT Civil Rights Division Director Hope Jensen in testimony before the Minnesota House Transportation Committee February 18. “It is basically based on the number of ready, willing and able certified businesses that are in the Disadvantaged Business program.”
In their report to the Minnesota Legislature, Mn/DOT officials said that their 6.2 percent DBE participation goal set for 2007 was met, along with the following diversity efforts:• 64 minorities were in the department’s On-the-Job Training (OJT) program in 2007 and 68 in 2008.• 42 women and minority trainees completed the Roads Opportunities and Diversity Success (ROADS) program in 2007 and 2008.• Two truck driving training programs were developed in 2008, one in Detroit Lakes in partnership with the White Earth tribe, and a second in partnership with Merrick Community Services in St. Paul and the Minneapolis Urban League.Forty-two students began with the two programs, and 24 students graduated, including 10 Native Americans, five Black males, two Somalis, one Asian male, one Latina and one Ethiopian male, along with three Whites.• Currently, 26 percent of all Mn/DOT minority employees are either students or graduates of the Seeds program, a Mn/DOT feeder program started in 1993. The program had 30-35 participants in 2007 and 35-40 participants in 2008.• The department’s Graduate Engineer Trainee Program, designed to provide Mn/DOT with new engineers, had 22-25 participants in 2007, and 31 participants in 2008. Continue Reading

Many worlds

I grew up as a man in white America. I had an unconscious assumption that everyone experienced life and saw the world as I did. Bettye taught me that there are many worlds—that each of us has a unique history and experience life in a singular way. I met Bettye when I was asked to lead a new 4,500 employee business unit in the company we worked for. I held meetings with employees and got to know Bettye. Continue Reading