Students host event to uplift BIPOC voices in Queer spaces

March 19, 2024
Isabella Paredes Mendoza '24

On Feb. 29, Saint Michael’s clubs Common Ground and Diversity Coalition co-hosted a panel focused on uplifting and empowering BIPOC voices in Queer spaces. Panelists were Richard Elliot and Raheemah Madany, coordinators from Thrive Vermont, a group for Queer and Trans people of color, and Lechelle-Antonia Gray, Outreach Manager for Hunger Free Vermont, an organization focused on fighting hunger and malnutrition for all Vermonters.

Photo by Isabella Paredes Mendoza ’24

Juneau Rich ’24, co-president of Saint Michael’s LGBTQIA+-focused club Common Ground, and one of the organizers for this event said the panel was inspired by the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation.

“We wanted to uphold the theme of the convocation— The Fierce Urgency of Now— given that there is so much harm caused to Black and Brown Queer communities in the world and the country, especially with the anti-LGBTQ bills,” Rich said. “I wanted to reach those people in our community, letting them know they are seen and supported.”

Photo by Isabella Paredes Mendoza ’24

Rich said the event had the best turnout out of all the Common Ground’s events this academic year. The event also drew the most BIPOC students into the audience as compared to other events.

“It is amazing, because that is the community we were trying to serve with this event,” Rich said.

Photo by Isabella Paredes Mendoza ’24

Richard Elliott, one of the panelists, said being welcomed at Saint Michael’s was nice.

“It is important to have a wide perspective and understand different experiences, listening to individuals like yourself and not like yourself,” Elliott said. “Diversity is always important.”

Photo by Isabella Paredes Mendoza ’24

Students enjoyed food from local BIPOC-owned businesses and engaged in a powerful conversation regarding inequities, resources, and representation of Queer and Trans people of color in the Saint Michael’s community and beyond. The discussion ended with a call to action focused on how the audience could address these issues, and ways for people who do not identify with these identities to be stronger allies.

“Common Ground wants Queer and Trans students of color to know that we see them, and we are here for them,” Rich said. “They always have a space in Common Ground!”

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