This Friday, Black Lives At Mudd (BLAM) is hosting an event for “Black Woman & Non-Gender Conforming People” in order to have “a celebration of what black women have done for this community through a presentation involving black men in the 5’cs [sic].”
“We want to build community and have a safe fun space to kick back and chill,” BLAM states on the event’s Facebook page. “Transportation, food, and tickets will be provided for Black Woman and Non-Gender Conforming people. Allies will be handled according to resources.”
The event comes in response to Friday’s annual “Dinner for the Sistahs” event hosted by Building Leaders On Campus (BLOC), an all-male organization for “self-identified marginalized” students with a largely black membership. Dinner for the Sistahs is designed to be “an opportunity for the men of BLOC and the WOC [women of color] of the 7Cs to interact and get to know one another.” This year, “Any WOC is able to attend” Dinner for the Sistahs, according to the event’s Facebook page. In previous years, the event “was catered to Black WOC” at the Claremont Colleges.
Many black female students did not approve of this change. “There have been several complaints by Black womyn about the BLOC event that is happening on Friday and from what I have seen, it seems to me that the men of BLAM wanted to explicitly make sure that the womyn who felt oppressed and not welcomed by the structure and advertisement of ‘Dinner for the Sistahs’ felt loved and wanted to create an actual safe space for Black womyn—with the input of Black womyn,” stated Ashley Land (PO ’16). “In my honest opinion, I feel like the dinner is being half-assed, it is last minute, it is devaluing black womyn by not even letting them have two hours with them as the focus (when the event was originally created for Black womyn…like how you gonna make the event called Dinner for the Sistahs when the word ‘sistah’ is historically seeded with Black womyn in mind???).”
Land adds, “I think this Thursday’s BLOC meeting needs to revolve around what work y’all can put in to make a more this campus a more inclusive community. You should question why the Black womyn are critiquing BLOC the way they are and what can we do to be better in the future. This is work y’all need to do on y’all on [sics throughout].”
“This is sh*tty and it ignores the fact that a sh*t ton of woc are anti-black on these campuses. Thanks for being complicit in the violence by opening the space. Gross,” stated Erin Houston-Burroughs (SC ’17).
BLOC responded to these criticisms by emphasizing that black women were still the focus of the event. “After considering feedback from all parties, we want to make it clear that this dinner is centered first and foremost around Black Womyn. The purpose of this dinner is to create a safe space for all participants in which they can enjoy themselves and feel unthreatened in a warm, community-based environment. We had no intentions of compromising this safe space nor did we have any inclination that opening up this event to all WOC would have this adverse effect.”
BLOC ultimately canceled Dinner for the Sistahs, and will instead host a forum to discuss the controversy.