Who are we? This semester, the students of African American Studies 399: Public Scholarship have been discovering, learning, and imagining ways to couple the power of intellectual knowledge and ideas with that of lived experiences and narrative through a lens of critical social justice. Guided by Dr. LaToya Brackett, we’re manifesting a project to do just that. On Monday, April 13, 2020 we’ll be launching The Public, a campus publication dedicated to uplifting the narratives, and hopefully the spirits, of those in our community who often get overlooked. Operating from a theoretical foundation of social justice and Black feminism, The Public is driven towards highlighting the good, the bad, and the unjust aspects of our campus and connected communities. We want to offer a place of congregation in times so uncertain and insecure, where we can all answer the questions of what it means to be a Logger at this unique moment. From music and art recommendations, to stories from our Tacoma local peers, to honest reports about how the University can and has failed us– we recognize the power in a platform to create and share knowledge with each other, and hope that these snapshots and more will loan themselves to our collective history.
Why now? The 2019-2020 school year has seen a noticeable lack of documentation on the University of Puget Sound campus. With the University newspaper, The Trail, under revision for most of the school year, little formal, organized, student-led attempts to record the experiences of the student body persists. The Public intends to fill at least some of that gap, with a focus on marginalized and vulnerable groups and persons. Further, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the entire Puget Sound community to make quick, intense, and sometimes traumatic changes to our lives, and many of the problems these changes cause or expose have disproportionate impacts on the systematically oppressed. Our content aims to document the whole reality of Puget Sound at this moment in history.
Why social justice and Black feminism? The professor of AFAM 399, Dr. LaToya Brackett, is an integral member of the Race & Pedagogy Institute and its quadrennial conference. AFAM 399 has been crafted to tie closely to the Institute and at times represent its values, which include critical social justice pedagogy, community organizing, and Black feminist ideology from scholars like Patricia Hill Collins. As students of Dr. Brackett and of African American Studies, we decided to uphold the same values with a project that not only produces public scholarship, but unites the creativity and knowledge of a community we’re all passionate about.
Why should you read? When it comes to building a better community and society, no one has all the answers. The Public doesn’t claim to be a band-aid or cure-all for the issues our campus faces at all levels. From our point of view, the best way to create harmony and unity in times like this is to share with each other, and learn from each other. We want The Public to be a place that you can come to and learn something you may not have known about Puget Sound.
Student Roles & Contributions
My name is Sofia McLaren, I am a sophomore at the University of Puget Sound majoring in African American Studies with an emphasis in Pre-Med. The COVID-19 virus has forced us to separate as a campus, but we are hoping that this publication allows the connection between students to live on and provides a sense of hope and connection that students may be longing for. Personally, I have noticed that being off-campus has lessened the everyday anxiety that I usually experience regarding academics. I know that if I were on campus right I wouldn’t be enjoying life in the way I am right now. Being home has allowed me to gain perspective on my habits that ensue as a result of academic life. Having my family around, although difficult at times, is very encouraging and often provides much needed breaks. However, that’s not to say that I don’t miss campus. I am missing being with and near my friends most of all. Spring semester was my favorite last year, it had the most sunny days and gave the gift of many Todd Field picnics. I am excited about this publication and its ability to provide an escape from the pandemic while also drawing attention to the important aspects of the pandemic that cannot be overlooked. We each have been given a gift, the gift of time to reflect about how life could be better, even if it doesn’t seem like a gift. Take the time to mourn the time lost together, but also to reflect critically on life.
The Public Contributions: Co-Editor, Site Design and Layout, Virtual Resources Page, Letter of Truth, and Reporting piece on Angela Weaver, Disappearing Act article
My name is Rachel Lorentz, and I am a senior at the University of Puget Sound. I am majoring in African American Studies with a minor in Education. As someone who switched majors late in my college career, I am only just now getting to settle into the African American Studies department with my wonderful colleagues and professors. Having to be taken away from that environment the last semester of my senior year after finally finding my intellectual passion has felt like a kick to the stomach. This is a weird time, and adjusting is going to be difficult, I can already tell. This is one of the main reasons my Public Scholarship class decided to take on this digital news endeavor. I am thankful to have school and this class right now because they provide me with a community that pushes me to think critically and engage in intellectual activism even when I am stuck at home for weeks on end. However, those who are hit first and the hardest by natural disasters like pandemics are those who are already oppressed. Our intellectual activism will be more important now than ever with COVID-19.
The Public contributions: The Senior Situation Column, Available Campus Resources Page, Graphic Design, Co-editor, Site design and Layout
Hey there! My name is Eliza Tesch and I’m a second year student here at UPS! I’m double majoring in African American Studies and Psychology and minoring in Studio Art. I’m a member of the chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority here on campus, I sing in Dorians women’s choir, and I’m an orientation leader. The University of Puget Sound is a place that I love dearly and that truly feels like home to me. All of the new changes as a result of COVID-19 have been difficult, and I really miss all of my friends and the communities I’m a member of on campus. I’m so excited to be working on The Public alongside my AFAM 399 Public scholarship class, because I’ve really missed spending time with amazing people while working together to create something. I hope our publication is able to brighten your day and help you feel connected to our campus.
The Public Contributions: The Persistently Positive Column, Opinion pieces
Hello! My name is Emma Piorier. I am a junior studying African American Studies and Gender Queer Studies. My time away from the classroom is spent performing spoken word poetry, teaching women’s powerlifting classes and competing with the University’s Ultimate team. COVID-19 is teaching me about resilience, community, and developing my independent sense of self. This pandemic has forced me to navigate unemployment, housing insecurity and the loss of community in various ways that not only continue to challenge my emotional and functional capabilities, but teach me about my privilege in new contexts. I feel passionately that this period, across dimensions, needs to be thoroughly documented so that we may remember, reflect and grow in the midst and following this era. Despite much change and adversity in the last few weeks, I have been feeling creative, eager and energetic about my projects, contributions to this class, and my remaining time as a student. I am grateful for The Public and AFAM 399 for creating platforms for meaningful, communal, critical conversations and remembrance.
The Public Contributions: Quarantine Reads, COVID-19 Coverage, Opinion pieces
My name is George Jackson IV, I am a senior at the University of Puget Sound majoring in African American studies and a member of the track and field team. The Covid-19 pandemic dampened what was going to be a great outdoor track and field season for our team and caused an unfortunate ending to my collegiate athletics career. The lessons in confidence and determination I acquired through four years of college athletics will forever be crucial aspects of my life. Due to social distancing and trying to stay home as much as possible, I have felt less of a demand to try and represent black people as a whole while on campus. Not having to be concerned about interactions with others associated with campus has allowed me to reflect on the hidden burdens I carry as a black male student. I am very appreciative to be a part of The Public along with my AFAM 399 classmates as this publication is a means of helping you all stay connected to campus without physically being in Tacoma.
The Public Contributions: Logger Athletics Column, Opinion pieces
My name is Isaac Sims-Foster and I’m a Junior with a double major in Communication Studies and African American Studies. On campus, I was involved with campus journalism and the BSU. The Public is a great opportunity to simultaneously progress and preserve campus history while also serving a community need for documentation and congregation. Time away from campus is giving me a more critical and diverse perspective on the University I represent, and this publication will be a great place for me to exercise these thoughts into public knowledge. I am proud and overjoyed to present this project with the help of AFAM 399 and Dr. Brackett. Thanks for reading!
The Public Contributions: Who Are We, Cover Stories, Instagram co-Contributor
Hi! My name is Makenna Hess-Fletcher. I’m in my 2nd year at the University of Puget Sound pursuing a bachelor’s degree with a major in African American Studies and a minor in Spanish. As someone who works an off-campus job, it’s taken me a little longer to get used to campus life and as I have just started to settle in more, the Covid-19 crisis hit. I am looking forward to us returning to campus once again. Covid-19 has been a battle for us all to navigate. I’m feeling the lack of resources available right now and I worry for those who have lost their jobs and are facing a multiplicity of insecurities in this time. I am excited about The Public as it has the ability to connect students with resources and make us all feel connected to one another and it gives us the space to engage with campus life in a new way.
The Public Contributions: Weekly Isolation Station Playlists, Opinion Piece, Instagram Account Co-contributor
My name is Monica Schweitz. I’m a senior majoring in African American Studies and a member of the Varsity Women’s Crew Team. Though the coronavirus pandemic has meant an abrupt and ill-fitted ending to my collegiate athlete experience, the lessons in grit, composure, selflessness, and confidence I gained from rowing will always be integral elements of my life. In both crew and the African American Studies major, I have learned about the power of personal and group resilience. The farther I get into this field, the more obvious it becomes that modern versions of slavery still stand in various forms of institutional racism. The study of the Black experience, therefore, is the study of courage and resilience. I am grateful for an undergraduate experience that combines lessons from the classroom with lessons from my sport in such a cohesive way. The personal growth achieved through athletics and the intellectual awakening achieved through academics cannot help but support one another and make the other more meaningful. My hope for my contributions to The Public as a copy editor and writer for the Logger Athletics op-ed piece is that, amidst the chaos of covid-19, I can provide a joyful and constructive voice as I look back on college as a time of positive transformation.
Habari! My name is Musa Abdirahman, I go by Moose. I am a sophomore at the University of Puget Sound, majoring in African American Studies and minoring in Communication Studies. On campus, I hold office as the Ouristorian for BSU and Office Assistant for Academic Advising. COVID-19 has really affected my morale as well as my environment, it challenges my day to day function as a student and throws off my sense of financial and emotional stability. I know it’s an uncertain and stressful time right now and I do hope you take the time for self-care and find glimpses of laughter and happiness — and let that carry you throughout this pandemic. I am appreciative to be part of The Public, and AFAM 399 for creating a publication that holds solidarity for students and utilizes the connective tissue that can be, to some extent, therapeutic and informational to the campus community. The Public Contribution: Campus in Quarantine Column
My name is Serena Sevasin and I am a second year student at the University of Puget Sound majoring in African-American studies with a minor in Education. Before leaving campus I was deeply invested in Greek Life serving as a Vice President and Chair of Conduct for my sorority, a Dance Class Coordinator and choreographer for the campus Repertory Group, and a member of the Black Student Union. I have found that with the need to be apart from others due to COVID-19, I have felt much less of an external pressure to perform or be hyper-aware of my appearance for others. I have felt a lot of internal pressure dissipate due to lacking physical interaction with peers, but also the underlying fear of something “not going well” in those day-to-day interactions due to my positionality as a black, queer woman on campus. This publication is allowing me to explore more of my identities in conjunction with my experiences as a student at the University, and I am grateful to have my Public Scholarship course and our publication be a platform for me to expand on my narratives, as well as those of others.
The Public contributions: Dear Serena Column