When asked, Cabrini students report that they often engage and explore diversity in their courses. That is something that people have come to expect in college, to engage in thought provoking dialogue and debate in class. Well, at Cabrini we work hard to engage students' curiosity and interests outside of class as well.
Over the last three years we've had a discussion called "Ratchet," where we've explored hip hop music and culture to reveal the meaning of the slang term. We also discovered that there were a myriad of diversity issues attached to this term and the dichotomy of its use. Many students described using the word in jest, while others admitted that it was perjorative.
To assist us with facilitating discussion of this topic and providing a critical analysis, two professors from Cabrini's Sociology (Andrew Owen, PhD) and Criminology (Vivian Smith, PhD) departments led these discussions with some students who are trained diversity peer educators (ACID Leaders). In this series of discussion, we've examined the power of the word. Dr. Owen helped us discuss "power words" and oppression in history. He asked if using this term was just perpetuating a systemic oppression through language and culture. Dr. Smith has helped us understand the play betweeen feminism displayed by artists like Beyonce and the mysogyny present in "Ratchet music." Also covered was the criminalization of people of color because of hip hop. In this last year we moved the discussion to topics like racism and mass incarceration, examining Kendrick Lamar and Beyonce's latest music.
Our students have really gotten into these discussions and enjoy the dialogue that takes place with their peers in a comfortable environment. While there may be times where people aren't comfortable talking about social justice issues like race, class and inequality, we pride ourselves at Cabrini with not only making it engaging and fun, but also an expectation across all parts of our campus.