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‘Extravaganza’ entertains, instructs crowd at Hutton

POSTED AT 11:43 PM ON Jan. 24, 2013 

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Freshman Cleo Hernandez decided at the last minute to call Thursday evening’s Diversity in Action event “Diversity Extravaganza”.

The program included an array of international food, an explanation of Charles Johnson’s “Dr. King’s Refrigerator,” networking and a performance by local rapper, Jayali.

Hernandez, president and treasurer of the Hutton Honors College Diversity in Action program, said some people thought it was strange to have a hip-hop performance in the building.

“Some of them think it’s sort of paradoxical, that there would be a hip-hop artist at the Hutton Honors College on a Thursday night,” Hernandez said, “It’s not something that usually happens here.”

Hernandez added that the Hutton Honors College is often thought to cater to only one kind of demographic. With this event, she hopes to bring a more diverse crowd to the college, she said.

According to Hernandez, a seeming lack of interest in diversity within the Hutton Honors College has been one of the root causes of the struggle for the Diversity in Action organization in the past.

“I’ve been a part of the revitalization process,” Hernandez said. “So, this is the event that we are throwing in order to get so more awareness and get some more members and go from there.”

Arnell Hammond, the director of diversity and student services in the Hutton Honors College, said she started the organization in 2010 to specifically encourage diversity.
The MLK geared events are definitely not new to the Diversity in Action program. Hammond said that even though the program participation is small they are trying to build it up.

“The purpose is to work towards inclusion in the Honors College for the Bloomington community and the IU community,” Hammond said. “It’s for anyone.”

As more and more people walked in the Hutton Honors College Great Room, Hernandez introduced herself and shared a little information about the Diversity in Action program.

African and African American Diaspora Visiting Faculty member and professor, Claudia Drieling then shared her German roots and a brief explanation about writer Charles Johnson’s collection of short stories “Dr. King’s Refrigerator: And Other Bedtime Stories”.

Drieling says that she and Hernandez talked about their backgrounds and the importance of diversity on campus.

“It’s not necessarily a thing that’s just about black and white but that everyone in the university contributes to it,” Drieling said. “It has a simple message. Human beings exist because of food. You need something as basic as food for everyone to connect. We will see that we have something in common.”

Drieling said she actually met Johnson last year.

“I actually did get to talk with him and he was kind of thrilled and he said ‘You open up with my story?’ and I said, ‘Yeah!’ and he said, ‘Why you do that?’ and I said ‘because I do not want people to think that African American literature is just about this or just about that,’” Drieling said. “So many people think it’s just one thing. Even within the African American community of writers there is so much diversity.”

She thinks that Johnson looks at humanity at large with his fictional story about Dr. King looking in the refrigerator and seeing food from all over the world.

Drieling knows that Hernandez’s goal is to develop this organization even further and achieve more diversity in the Hutton Honors College.

“I want to make sure that this does not become an isolated event, not just with Hutton Honor students,” Drieling said.

 

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