Posted April 26, 2017 by Cooper Point Journal in Uncategorized

Student Perspective on Day of Absence

In this week’s POC talk I spoke to students who attended the reversed Day of Absence this year. For those of you who don’t know or did not participate, Day of Absence (or DOA) is one part of a two day event where focus is placed on issues surrounding race at Evergreen. Traditionally on DOA Students faculty and admin of color are invited to spend the day off campus engaging in community building, workshops and focusing on issues that we face in society and at a primarily white institution as people of color. This year however the idea was reversed so that POC were asked to gather on campus and a small amount, there was space for 200, of white people were asked to spend their day off campus workshopping on issues of oppression. There seems to have been some confusion about how this reversal changed DOA  as an event, so I asked several participating students how they felt about the reversal and this year’s DOA in general.

Isiah Montejano

This is my first DOA.This experience so far has been an amazing journey, just seeing all the people of color coming to get it on campus and sharing in this event has really brought a lot of happiness to my heart. It’s not often we all get a space like this. I co-hosted a workshop with Mia Milton on self-care for students faculty and staff of color. It’s something that’s not really talked about a lot [in] the community, so I thought it was important.

I think the reverse is justified. From what I know on the history of DOA, we’ve always had to go off campus in order for us to really talk on the problems PoC saw on campus. I think with everything going on politically, it’s really powerful that we can able to claim on-campus for space and build community.

My favorite part of the day was watching everyone come together at lunch. Part of that is being a taurus haha. People were eating, chatting, and dancing all over the place. It was beautiful seeing all these people of color come together like this, and have time to heal and rejoice with one another.

Dre Benard

[I had] Never been to the DOA before. I feel like I’m glad it was on campus because [otherwise] I probably wouldn’t of attended the talks and just stayed home. I think it was confusing for everyone else what was going on, my teachers didn’t really know if they should just cancel class or not. I went to the speeches in the morning and the talking from the keynote speakers was very informative and the topics hit right at home for me. That was easily my favorite part of the day. I wish it would of been longer

Marissa Parker

“I haven’t been to DOA [before]. I’m a first year Evergreen student. I was kinda apprehensive about it because white people like infiltrating POC spaces all the time. But I was also excited because I love being in/with my community outside of the classroom. A lot of healing goes on. It’s like: “wow I forgot what it’s like to be around people who like me and I don’t have to prove anything.” My opinion on the reversal is mixed just like anything else. Like on the one hand POC can stop doing so much labor to prove that we’re worth the fucking labor in the first place. So now some responsibility is put on white people to educate themselves. On the other hand: there was only 200 spaces with a campus of thousands of white people. Literally a few thousand. And that’s not a knock on the programming because I can’t even imagine putting on a successful DOA/DOP which this was. But now we have 200 “think they woke” white people out of the thousands. And I’ve already heard of white people saying, “well I went to DOA so I can say this.” Like the coordinator used that Lorde quote about revolution isn’t a one time thing. But anyway. I went to the Moonlight screening and fish bowl. It was lit. Got to hear from people who the movie was for. Just listening to their feelings about it instead of a think piece which I find to be more genuine. I went to a [workshop on] cultivating voice for queer and trans poets. I was the only POC so imagine how fun that was. And why do white people use academic language when they want to impress people. You know multisyllabic esoteric words, oh am I cool now?! And I’m going to a screening of Do The Right Thing which I’m excited about. My mom’s been trying to get me to watch the movie forever. Thank you.”

Naomi Ishaq

I went to DOA last year.I think although the reversal has the intention of decentering whiteness, whiteness is always the center. POC are used to that and know that and we’re used to having to make spaces for ourselves within that. I think that because it was on campus a lot more people that weren’t clear about the intentions of Day of Absence wandered in or came because they needed to for class and didn’t want to go off campus. The space ended being a lot less intentional because of that. When it was off campus we knew that everybody that was there had made an effort to be there and knew what and who the space was for. And we got to leave Evergreen and the space where we have never been centered and finally center ourselves.

I presented a workshop about Islamophobia and Asian Muslims. I’ve been thinking lately about how I never got to learn about myself or learn my histories until I came to Evergreen. And it’s really painful to have to learn about myself in this way and a lot of times from people who don’t share my history and a lot of times around people who are learning about me and know more about my history than I do. A lot of times it’s directed at those people and not me. It felt really good to put that work in myself and for myself and not have to rely on somebody else for that. Also I loved Maxine Mimms asking why George Bridges is even here anymore. But you know.

POC Talk

For myself personally I found the reversal kind of confusing and agree that it did seem a shame so few white people were able to workshop but overall I found it enjoyable and successful! In my opinion the best part of DOA was definitely watching everyone relax and have a good time together during lunch. There’s something so amazing about that large of a group of PoC sharing food, enjoying each other’s company and doing the Cupid Shuffle in the face of a society that doesn’t value our joy or our lives.

POC Talk is a space to focus on the unique experiences people of color face at Evergreen and in Olympia. It is written by Evergreen Student of Color in an effort to specifically discuss POC issues. We want to center and boost POC voices so if you have something to add you can submit your questions, comments, concerns, or ideas for what you would like POC Talk to cover to