Black Student Union Advisor and Academic Success Coach Calvin Monroe speaks about the strength, and courage of BIPOC students, and advice for allies who want to help.
By Riley Mulcahy
Calvin Monroe has been a vital fixture of the Saint Mary’s community for four years. As a Student Engagement and Academic Student Success Coach, Monroe interfaces with students regularly to guide students through the college process and give advice and support when needed. Before coming to Saint Mary’s, Monroe resided in Atlanta, Georgia, where he attended the Historically Black College Morehouse College, where he obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in African American studies. He then attended Georgia State University, where he received his Master’s Degree, furthering his knowledge in African American Studies. In addition to his role as an Academic Success Coach, Monroe also advises Saint Mary’s Black Student Union and is also a doctoral student at SMC, graduating next May
Monroe considers his role as an advisor to the BSU as a “joy” because he can see how Black students on campus lead and support each other. Furthermore, Monroe states that he is proud to advise the BSU due to their leadership on a campus “where feelings of being unsupported and unheard are not uncommon.”
Monroe reflects that he often “relish[es] in watching their selfless service for bettering the lives of other Black students sometimes supersedes their own. “In this role, I like to allow students to lead. I serve as the administrative point of view, offering insights into rules and regulations, or other short and long term implications to decisions, events, and activism that the leaders seek to undertake.”
In January, Monroe taught a JanTerm class called “Black Lives Matter, Approaching an Emic Approach to Communities of African Descent” which aimed to showcase the Black experience in America and abroad. Monroe states that the course was broken into four sections, 1. Living in the World as Black, 2. Within the Black Community, 3. Activism, 4. Education and the Academy.
Monroe states that “these four sections built upon one another, and students were able to truly see and understand the unique issues that face Black people everyday. Students understood that there are pressures coming from all directions, and were able to articulate pain, trauma, and triumphs of Black people. For non-Black people, there was constant articulation of ‘not knowing’ all of what Black people go through, and desiring to be more empathetic to BIPOC students, they also articulated understanding of how to be a better ally to the Black community.”
On the topic of allyship, Monroe argues that allies should be willing to do their own research about the history of racism, not just how racism is examined from a modern perspective. Additionally, Monroe states that to be a good ally, they should not only understand the effects of racism, also “how BIPOC people, no matter where they are, experience it. Once they do this, they will understand that being an ally is not a trend, but a lifelong service to helping marginalized communities.”
Also, Monroe believes “Allies should also strongly desire to speak within their own circles and families, calling out words, sentiments, and actions that hurt, neglect, or marginalize BIPOC communities,. This takes courage, but being a true ally takes courage. It is not performative, and it does not expire; it is a lifelong job.”
Monroe also realizes the reality and stresses of online schooling due to COVID and how impactful this moment has been. In a world that can feel stressful and fast-paced, Monroe believes that students should take a moment to make sure that they are taking care of themselves. Monroe says this includes working with professors and yourself to ask for and receive accommodations and not be too hard on yourself in this year of uncertainty. Monroe argues that accommodations such as extensions on assignments or being courageous and asking others to join you in study sessions can be “the difference between making progress each semester, or stalling out because you may have pushed yourself too hard.”
Monroe is an important on-campus figure for Saint Mary’s students, especially those who identify as BIPOC, who need an advocate to speak along with them.
Special thanks to Calvin Monroe for his participation in this article.
By Kiera O'Hara-Heinz
On March 2, 2021 at 7:00pm, Saint Mary’s will be hosting a mental health workshop for Black students, staff and community members titled “Rest and Restore: The Path to Soul Care.” The event, which will take place over Zoom, is the second of the College’s Black Mental Health series, a three part collection of workshops that are a part of Saint Mary’s 44 Days: Honoring Black History.
The event will be hosted by Dr. Tameka Jackson, a licensed psychologist who specializes in meeting the mental health needs of the Black community. Dr. Jackson will be leading exercises and activities focused on finding inner strength and resilience, taking sacred pause and restoration of the soul.
Jenee Palmer, director of the High Potential Program and the organizer of the series, says that the Black Mental Health series originated in 2019 after student feedback requested the formation of healing spaces for Black mental health during the 44 days. She is excited that this year's series will feature workshops led by Black psychologists on a variety of topics.
“We have designed the Black Mental Series workshops as intentional affinity spaces for our Black students and community members,” Palmer said. “We hope that participants will leave sessions feeling validated, nourished, and in community with others.”
The first event hosted by Dr. Jacquelyn Johnson “Black People Don’t Do That! The Messaging and Myths That Harm Us” was held on February 16th, and focused on the myths that have been defining, and hurting the Black community. This event was meant to create discussion around the stereotypes that have followed the Black community, causing pain to the Black community, including members within our Saint Mary’s community.
The third and final part of the Black Mental Health series will take place on March 9, 2021 at 6:00pm over Zoom. Titled “Why You Talk White?” this event will examine the experiences of racial minorities in primarily white institutions and the academic and professional stress pressured on Black people to speak Standard American English. The event will be hosted by Dr. Carnetta Porter, a registered psychologist whose doctoral research was focused on the relationship between language acquisition and formation of racial identity.
These events are meant to provide students, faculty, and staff who identify as being a part of the Black community safe spaces to talk about the challenges they face, and be provided support within their community. These events recognize the importance of mental health, and hope to take away the stigma surrounding discussing mental health, and the affects it can have on individuals.
Special thanks to Jenee Palmer for her participation in this interview.
Paul R. Williams became the first licensed African American architect, who paved the way for others to pursue their dreams.
By George Donovan
The golden dreams of California, a fruitful future of fantasies in motion, flash to life in the remarkable achievements and legacy of Paul Revere Williams. One of the single most talented among the State’s storied names, Williams, as its first licensed African-American architect, encompassed the look and feel of the Golden State through his portfolio of nearly 3,000 buildings developed and designed across Southern California.
Born in Los Angeles in 1894, Williams attended Polytechnic High School, where the attempted discouragements of his teachers pushed him to channel his confidence into numerous successful appearances in architectural competitions. In 1921, he became the first certified Black architect west of the Mississippi; two years later, in 1923, he would become the first Black member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
With his practice opened in 1923, Williams went on to prove his mastery of the City of Angels’ desires, delivering public housing, churches, and civic, commercial, and institutional buildings in the biggest styles of the time. These included Monterey Revival, Tudor Revival, and of course, the ever-popular Art Moderne, as seen in his intimate interior design for Sak’s Fifth Avenue that helped turn Beverly Hills into a glamorous retail paradise. His diversity of styles, especially amid the surging modernist tastes following the Second World War, would eventually crown him “Architect to the Stars,” with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez, Barbara Stanwyck, Cary Grant, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, and Frank Sinatra each getting in touch with him for creations.
While projects and properties always provided a new, creative opportunity, the racist policies and interpersonal encounters so prevalent in American life brought trials and work challenges to Williams unseen in his white peers. Williams continued to design residences for affluent clients in neighborhoods like Flintridge, Windsor Square, and Hancock Park, places where only white homebuyers were allowed to live or make appearances around the property. To accommodate his white clients, Williams taught himself to draft upside-down when they couldn’t bring themselves to sit beside him, working on the other end of the table to present a right-side-up image. In 1949, the Beverly Hills Hotel, “The Pink Palace,” welcomed his Crescent Wing, an establishment which wouldn’t let him eat by the pool or book a room for the night, as its sheer green facade made a glitzy aesthetic standard out of his own massive handwriting.
In the face of the discrimination he received in his practice and the nationwide oppression of African-Americans, Williams persevered and continued to excel year after year with new designs for most anything. Perhaps his most famous role was as associate architect on the team behind the masterplan for LAX. As the fifties’ newest coffee shops and car washes began to vaunt the exuberant Googie style, named after one of the movement’s original haunts, the airport’s incredible Theme Building, a true mid-century masterpiece, rose as the crossroads of the Jet Age, the number one place for Angelenos to catch a future on the move after other worlds’ other breakfasts at legends like Ships, Norms, and Pann’s. Outside of California, Williams donated plans to Danny Thomas, a close Hollywood friend and founder of the St. Jude Children’s Hospital, for the first building on the St. Jude campus in Memphis, TN. Upon its opening in 1962, the five-spoked children’s hospital was the first fully integrated children’s hospital in the South and would be the site of incredible advances in treating childhood diseases such as Leukemia.
In 1973, Williams retired from architecture and passed away in 1980. In 2017, he was posthumously honored as the first Black architect to receive the AIA’s highest honor: the Gold Medal, for individuals whose body of work has left a lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture. And in 2020, Williams’ archives, including blueprints, photos, and more, became digital history with the help of his own USC School of Architecture, his granddaughter, Karen Elyse Hudson, and the Getty Research Institute. Today, behind his own Golden State Mutual Building in his home neighborhood of West Adams, LA, he, along with twenty-three standout buildings from his six-decade career, is celebrated in a bronze relief. Paul Revere Williams, in his trailblazing eighty-five years, has left this country and its design languages a richer, smarter voice.
The extraordinary Paul Revere Williams (Photo Courtesy of Karen Hudson)
Paul Revere Williams, 1952 (Courtesy of Getty Research Institute)
An inside look at Vice President Kamala Harris’ political achievements, making changes to support and protect all people in the U.S. namely members of the BIPOC, and LGBTQIA+ communities.
By Remy Zerber
Kamala Harris is a woman who has had a tremendous impact on the United States. On January 20, 2021, Harris was sworn in as the first female vice president alongside President Joe Biden. Vice President Harris has had an impressive career in politics as the first female District Attorney of San Francisco as well as California senator. A Democrat, Vice President Harris has strong opinions about important issues such as gun violence, education, and LGBTQ rights.
Vice President Harris, a woman of color, has made history with many of her historical achievements. Vice President Harris made history when “[s]he was the first Black woman to be elected district attorney of San Francisco and served from 2004 to 2010” (Weinberg and Palaniappan, January 20, 2021). When Vice President Harris was District Attorney, she had to deal with a controversial-violence-against-the-police case. During her term “[i]n April 2004, Officer Isaac Espinoza was gunned down by gang member David Hill in the city’s Bayview. Police and California’s two Democratic senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, urged Harris to seek the death penalty against Hill” (Sernoffsky, January 19, 2021). Vice President Harris did not pursue the death penalty, causing her to lose the police’s support. However, she regained their support later with her success as District Attorney.
Vice President Harris has proven that she is a strong politician. As Britannica says, “She was the first woman and the first African American to hold the post [of vice president]. She had previously served in the U.S. Senate (2017–21) and as attorney general of California (2011–17)” (McNamee, January 20, 2021). Vice President Harris’ husband is also the first second man that the United States has had. A second man is the spouse of the vice president just like Biden’s wife is the first lady. If the vice president had a female spouse it would be the second lady.
Vice President Harris has done many incredible things for this country. In my opinion, one of the most impressive things Vice President Harris has done is legalize same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage should have always been legal. Vice President Harris legalized this in California, allowing hundreds of LGBTQ couples to get married and be happy. Earlier in her career “[a]s San Francisco DA, Harris also created a Hate Crimes Unit aimed at prosecuting hate crimes committed against LGBTQ teens in school” (Sitron, June 16, 2017). Obviously, she thinks being LGBTQ should be normalized. “Harris’s early support of marriage equality in California directly laid the legal groundwork for the US Supreme Court’s decision in 2012 that same-sex couples have the right to marry...Within hours of the decision, plaintiffs to the Supreme Court case Kris Perry and Sandy Stier became the first gay couple to wed in San Francisco, and Harris officiated their wedding” (Sitron, June 16, 2017). The fact that Vice President Harris officiated a San Franciscan gay couple’s wedding shows how much she cares about this issue.
A New York Times article wrote that “From the earliest days of her childhood, Vice President Harris was taught that the road to racial justice was long” (Lier and Ember, November 7, 2020). It is no wonder that Harris grew up to have a political career that advocates for change. When Harris was inaugurated to become vice president she said, “While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,” [...]“Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities” (Lier and Ember, November 7, 2020). Vice President Harris hopes to inspire girls to have a political career.
Clearly, Vice President Harris’ political career is one to remember. Her achievements will go down in history. Her time as San Francisco’s District Attorney helped a lot of people, especially the LGBTQ community. Vice President Harris also served as a senator that represented all people regardless of color or sexual orientation in California. She is now the first female vice president, alongside President Biden. She is also the first Black and South Asian American vice president in history. She wants to send a message to girls everywhere, telling them that it is possible to be a woman in politics.
A series that allows viewers to dive into the drama of the Bridgerton family, having the chance to escape the reality of an ongoing pandemic.
By Isabelle Delostrinos
Netflix’s Bridgerton has taken over the throne and is the most viewed series on the streaming platform. Filled with drama and romance the show was able to overthrow previous placeholder, The Witcher, with over 82 million views since its release on Christmas Day according to Deadline. After months of sheltering in place, Bridgerton could not have been released at a better time. With many Americans gaining fatigue from COVID restrictions and working from home, this show provided a whimsical escape into the lives of the Bridgerton family and townspeople of London.
Set in 1813, the show follows the lives of the Bridgertons, a wealthier and more traditional family of eight children and their widowed mother. Wedding season has just begun and the eldest daughter, Daphne played by Phoebe Dynevor, is the first of the family to be participating in the marriage market. They hold a reputation of being very prim and proper, and are known to be the most perfect family in the town. Their excitement for this special occasion causes them to bring out their best dresses and jewelry to uphold their family name during this season. But Eloise, the second eldest daughter, has far more interest in the inequalities she experiences by being a woman in their society. Her best friend, Penelope Featherington, shares those same values.
Penelope comes from a rather unique family. Her mother also enters all three of her daughters into the running to find a husband. But their chances to wed become much slimmer when their distant cousin, Marina Thompson, arrives to stay in their home during this time. Not only is she the new girl in town and must adjust to this new lifestyle, but she is forced to deal with her own drama that has followed from her past. Her attempt to have a fresh start in this new place has failed miserably, dragging the Featheringtons into her story.
Now this recap may seem like the whole show might have just been spoiled, but we are only scratching the surface. The Duke of Hastings, played by Rege-Jean Page, is another key character who swoons the hearts of all the women in the town. His unfortunate status of being single makes him the primary candidate in the marriage market. Viewers also explore the happenings in the lives of the Bridgerton men, who each begin to dip into the idea of love and what it means or feels like. How could a show with only eight episodes keep track of this amount of drama? Lady Whistledown, voiced by none other than Julie Andrews, publishes all of the town’s juicy gossip for everyone to read in a daily paper. Her identity is anonymous, bringing in that much more suspense to the townspeople and viewers at home.
Bridgerton is based on a book series written by Julia Quinn, who is the #1 New York Times Bestselling Romance author. Her romantic novels appealed to producer Shonda Rhimes, who is well known as the woman behind Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal. These shows have demonstrated Rhimes’s ability to execute a story in ways that keeps viewers wanting more. For instance, Grey’s Anatomy first aired in 2005 and is still filming today, fifteen years later. Rhimes’s successful resume would only suggest that this new series should be one to keep on your radar.
The show has been renewed for a second season and is set to begin filming in the UK this spring. This series is a great pick me up for people who enjoy light hearted love stories and plots based on never ending drama and gossip. It is recommended for mature audiences and can be uncomfortable for people watching with other family members, so play this in the living room at your own risk. But in the end, each episode is significant and has an ability to keep viewers wanting more. Its structure reflects the way a book is set up, where episodes feel like a chapter and pressing the “next episode” button is like quickly turning the page to find out what’s next. I finished the series within a day, unapologetically staying up until 3 A.M. to do so. I am part of the millions of others who recommend this witty show and hope it gains a larger audience before season two is released in the future.
Fans are convinced that Olivia Rodrigo’s new song “Driver’s License” has connections to Sabrina Carpenter and Joshua Bassett.
By Remy Zerber
Olivia Rodrigo’s new song “Driver’s License” is a big hit, topping most of the charts within the first day it was released. However, it has caused some drama with Sabrina Carpenter and Joshua Bassett, two other singers, and Disney Channel stars.
Josh and Olivia co-starred on High School Musical: The Musical: The Series together. They were rumored to be dating and broke up in August 2020. After they broke up, Josh was rumored to be dating Sabrina because they posted a video dressed up as Sharkboy and Lavagirl to TikTok on Halloween together. This would suggest they were quarantining together. Olivia’s song is rumored to be about a love triangle between the three singers.
In her song, Olivia sings "And you're probably with that blonde girl / Who always made me doubt / She's so much older than me / She's everything I'm insecure about," which could be about Sabrina because she is blonde and four years older than Olivia. Olivia also sings “I still see your face in the white cars, front yards/Can't drive past the places we used to go to” which is ironic because Josh has a white car.
Another line in the song is "I guess you didn't mean what you wrote in that song about me" which could be another clue. This could be referring to Josh’s other songs, “Common Sense” and “Anyone Else”. "Common Sense" is about the possibility of getting back together after a breakup, and "Anyone Else" is about an ex moving on and seeing them with another person. These songs are believed by some to be about Olivia. Some people think the hands in the music video for “Anyone Else” belong to Sabrina Carpenter.
People also believe that Josh and Sabrina have responded to Olivia’s song with other songs. Josh’s rumored response song is called “Lie, Lie, Lie” and Sabrina’s responded with her song “Skin”, although they both denied that the songs were about Olivia. Josh said his song was about an ex-best friend who kept lying about him behind his back and Sabrina said her song was about a bunch of situations that got under her skin.
Fans think that “Skin” is directed at Olivia because she sings “Maybe we could've been friends if I met you in another life” and people think she is talking about Olivia because she is mad at her. Sabrina also sings “Maybe blonde was the only rhyme, The only rhyme”. People think she is referencing Olivia’s song because Olivia wrote “And you're probably with that blonde girl/Who always made me doubt”. Fans think Sabrina is the blonde girl that Olivia is writing about. Originally, Olivia wrote “brunette girl” but then changed it to “blonde girl” which causes even more speculation among fans.
Ironically, all three songs came out around the same time. However, Josh said he wrote his song in the summer of 2020 and his release date was planned for a while so it was just a coincidence that Sabrina and Olivia both released songs around the same time too. However, some fans still think that “Lie, Lie, Lie” and “Skin” are about Olivia’s song because the music video for her song is similar to the ones for Josh’s and Sabrina’s songs. All three music videos have scenes of the actors doing something in a car like driving it, sitting on top of it or laying on the seats. Josh’s and Olivia’s music videos also both had scenes where they were driving with blue and pink lights on their faces.
Additionally, Sabrina sings “I'm happy and you hate it, hate it, oh”. People think she is saying that Olivia hates it that Sabrina is happy with Josh. Another line in the song says “But you been telling your side/So I'll be telling mine, oh” which fans think means that she is going to tell her side of the story because Olivia told her’s. Sabrina also sings “You can try/To get under my, under my, under my skin/While he's on mine/Yeah, all on my, all on my, all on my skin”. People think she is taunting Olivia with these lines because she is saying that she is not going to get hurt by Olivia’s comments. Another thing that people are saying is Olivia put Sabrina in the spotlight and made her successful because her song made it to number one on the charts but Sabrina is saying that she earned her success on her own when she sings “You're putting me in the spotlight/But I've been under it all my life,…”. Another reference that people are talking about is when Sabrina sings, “Don't drive yourself insane”. Driving references “Driver’s License”, which is Olivia’s song.
The whole situation involving Sabrina Carpenter, Joshua Bassett, and Olivia Rodrigo is very intriguing. Fans are going to be decoding the lyrics to every song that the singers release, trying to find out who the song is about. They are going to become invested in the love triangle. Fans are so invested right now that they think every song is about the drama even though the singers have spoken out about what the songs are about. People think they know what something is really about but they don’t. The only person who knows what it is actually about is the person involved in the situation so they should stop assuming everything.
Melanie Moyer '22,