Friday, December 3, 2010
Harvard vs. Yale, and the Battle against...Hate?
Have you missed me?! I know it’s been a while – and I promise to show some pictures from my time away. But before that, as promised, let’s talk about the New England rivalry event of the year on its two week anniversary…Harvard vs. Yale!
I prepared for the event with the excitement of any college football Saturday; I’m not a diehard fan, but I do love me a healthy competitive game when I feel invested in the team. In true football fashion, the excitement has to start the night before the game. And so, with a couple of my colleagues, we went out for drinks at the famous “John Harvard” pub. I’d never been there before – and I’ll be completely honest, I went more for good convo than a football pre-game – but it was a lot of fun to be surrounded by a young, fresh, excited crowd. (I know I sound really old, but that’s what grad school can do to you!). We had some delicious bread pudding to celebrating my upcoming birthday (that was the only “cake” I got, so thanks guys!). A few hours, and a few pitchers, later, we had fun taking in the scene and getting in on a bit of the action, too.
Happy Birthday to Me... :)
This crowd looks suspiciously young...
I saw a guy from Yale wearing a dino suit, and so I thought this was grounds for a picture...
I borrowed some glasses that I thought were fly (until I read "Harvard Sucks" on the side...)
Harvard is "so much" better...P.S. Is "Yale" old enough to be there?!?
The next day, Saturday, I had every intention of getting up early and going to the HSPH tailgate that was happening outside the football stadium. But, reality set in that I needed to do some packing, and so I made it to Cambridge just in time for the 10 am – 12 pm tailgate to be over. Instead, I went to the first ever Black Graduate Student Harvard/Yale and Alumni “tailgate” at one of the local bar/clubs in Cambridge. This was an opportunity to meet past and current students from the College and Harvard’s 12 graduate schools, several students from Yale, and watch the football game. Let me preface the occasion by saying this was no Michigan State vs. University of Michigan event. I was adorned in Harvard gear and was ready to enjoy an exciting football game. Instead, I found myself at a club (I mean, it could have actually been 11 pm at night), complete with flowing drinks, music, dancing…and oh yeah, the game playing somewhere in the background. I met a handful of people (no, I didn’t meet any potential suitors), got to know some of my own classmates better, and actually had a really good time! And the amazing thing to me was that I actually went completely on my own! In the words of Fisher Price, I think it was, “I’m a big kid now!”
Me and a friend (and fellow Student Ambassador for the Office of Diversity)
The club actually reached capacity!!
Ignore the "Stanford" and focus on the color...
" To the window, to the wall..." (at 3 pm in the afternoon)
My HSPH crew!!
My afternoon Harvard/Yale experience was great fun, and it was especially exciting to see how many well-educated, successful Black people there are in Boston/affiliated with Harvard. But while I thought the event signified how far Harvard as a university had come in expanding its own walls, I found that unfortunately, Boston as a city hasn’t been able to do the same. An incident at a new nightclub called “Cure” was brought to my attention that showed just how far we, as a city and a nation, still have to go.
In summary, a Harvard Business School organization called Triumph had organized a night event for current Harvard/Yale students and alumni to end the Harvard/Yale weekend. Unfortunately, several race-related problems arose that ended in the early conclusion of the party. In particular, there were concerns from Cure management and staff that the large numbers of Black students outside the club would invite negative attention, potentially attracting “local gangbangers” (management’s word) to the scene. See this link for a full account of the story: http://jezebel.com/5696308/club-mistakes-black-harvard-crowd-for-local-gangbangers
While I didn’t personally attend this event, I was invited and actually considered partaking in the festivities. I’ve been to three different events organized by this organization and can personally say that the events are always well-organized and well-attended, and it is always highly recommended that you purchase tickets in advance (especially since they normally sell out). I’m glad that I didn’t because this is the kind of attitude that shows you that no matter how intelligent you are, no matter how hard you work, and no matter how successful you become, you will still be disadvantaged based purely on the color of your skin. No, I’m not racist, and no, I don’t believe that every person who doesn't look like me is racist. But I do think that in an age where Obama’s election has somehow become a symbol for overcoming racism, it’s so important to remember that a struggle still remains. If any of you reading this are minorities considering coming to HSPH, just know that while the name Harvard will inevitably provide you with opportunities and respect, the challenges you may have been facing based on you minority status all these years do not magically melt away. And for those of you who are not minorities, you have a role to play here, too, keeping an open mind and correcting comments made that are made purely by stereotype. For me, that’s largely what inspired me to work with the Office of Diversity, hoping to be able to minimize the barriers that we face. I’m going to continue investigating this incident – particularly as it seems that a potential lawsuit may come out of it – and I’ll continue to keep you all posted.
Alla prossima (a little Italian for you!)
Racism is a man’s gravest threat to an – the maximum of hatred for a minimum reason.
-From Jewish theologian and philosopher Abraham J. Heschel