What I find truly profound about Carleton is that I can literally do all the things that I am truly passionate about. When I share them with the entire campus, my passions in some way or another are released to the world. This week my organization Coalition of Women of Color (COWOC) hosted a week of events that we titled COWOC Against Violence Week. See that’s what is great about Carleton you can designate any week your week and no will mind because it could possibly be someone else’s week as well.
Our week of events included a talk by Professor Clarissa Rojas entitled “A train bound for freedom: envisioning an end to violence”. Clarissa Rojas is a Chicano feminist scholar who spent her childhood in Mexicali, Mexico and Calexico, California. Her family immigrated to Chula Vista, California when she was 12. Her father’s family is from Guadalajara, Jalisco and her mother’s family is from Magdalena, Sonora and Nogales and Douglas, Arizona. She is a professor of Chicano and Latino Studies at California State University, Long Beach and the co-founder of INCITE: Women of Color Against Violence. She also serves as Commissioner on CSULB’s President’s Commission on the Status of Women. Her talk was phenomenal. It included the historic sexualization of women of color as well as their current standing. She also spoke about how war in many ways has a more detrimental impact on women that any other group of people. One daunting fact that she indicated was that more than half of young women crossing the border are on birth control because it is more likely than not that they will experience some form of sexual assault.
The second highlight of our week was a performance a company called A Long Walk Home, whose performance was entitled “Story of A Rape Survivor (SOARS)”. SOARS is a performance about one woman’s journey to reclaim her body, sexuality, spirituality, and self esteem after being sexual assaulted in college. Performed by a diverse cast of women and featuring photographs taken by her sister during the recovery process, SOARS uses modern dance, spoken-word, and music to educate the public about sexual violence and to ease the shame, guilt, and self-blame that rape victims too often feel with a story of hope and healing.
Professor Williams (History professor and Chair of the African/African American Studies department) informed me that the week of events was revolutionary, for in his 23 years at Carleton; sexual violence against women of color has never been announced so loudly or explored so deeply. Carleton makes these achievements possible for me.