Black History Month

[Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and comments of this podcast do not represent the viewpoints of Middlebury Institute of International Studies-Monterey or Student Council and are solely the opinions of the individuals who participated in the podcast. In addition, the contents of this podcast may contain sensitive topics and explicit language- Thus, listener discretion is advised.]

In 1976, President Gerald Ford decreed Black History Month to be nationally observed .


We can seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black

          Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”


With this in mind, among many other things, the producers here at MIIS radio decided to launch a multi-episode podcast with a focus on Black history. After lengthy but productive discussions we realized there were several important ideas driving the the vision of this podcast.

  1. Black history is American history
  2. Black history should not be restricted to one month in of the year. Neither should Black issues, Black accomplishments, or Black advocacy .

We then decided that this discussion should span beyond the one month of February. And so, on a rainy day at the end of February, we sat down with our first panel, that comprised of a range of your peers & colleagues here at MIIS, to share their insight, experiences and stories about black identity at MIIS, in the community, in the United States and abroad. Our conversation covered history, its impact on the present, and our hopes for what the future might look like.

Tune in here!


Have a listen & , share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

We hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed being part of it.

Thanks for tuning in.


MIIS Radio Team

Gabe S., Susan W., & Radwa W.

4 thoughts on “Black History Month

  1. Hi there.

    I’d love to listen to the podcast but I don’t see a link anywhere. How do I actually listen to it?

    Thank you!

  2. Loved this!!!! First of all let me share the link to this video that embodies the spirit of this discussion
    secondly, feel free to dismiss anything that I am saying if I am coming from a place where I did not understand the point you were making during the talk.
    I believe it’s still important to have “compare and contrast” because we need to keep opening up (our) minds to try to understand, not just acknowledge, that people have different experiences. It still serves us well to do so. I think we have to realize the school is making progress when it comes to establishing, in a certain way, the level of comfort in addressing these issues, but it is not mature yet. The school is not ready to get to the next level which is what you are talking about Radwa where we can just focus on ourselves. You say it is a waste of time that people come here to broaden their horizon instead of just focusing on school and themselves but if they were indeed only focusing on themselves, then we would be complaining that with all this richness of cultures, walks of lives and different experiences, it is a shame that they/we aren’t using that to be more “woke”. Although I think it is what you guys are actually doing with this podcast and other events. So it does serve us well, gotta do what you gotta do, it’s not a waste of time. This is part of the MIIS experience and I am happy that it is like this because coming here made me grow not only academically speaking but personally through these kinds of discussions where I can get a chance to understand what it means to be black here, or what is the other African experience that is not mine. My African experience is different from Aminata’s, it is different from other African students and I love to discover that, grow on empathy, tighten my human relationship bonds and move towards a fairer system.
    Tina and Shinae, I hear you. You gotta be able to be yourself without anyone questioning it or questioning your experience but I think lots of progress still needs to be made to reach a time where just understanding that leaving you alone, doing you, is the way it should be. Consequently, to be able to get to that point, you have to accept that they are going to keep questioning and you/we have to keep patient and keep educating. As you said Tina, you have no escape, you are here to stay (if you want), so the only way to make things better for yourself is to keep talking to people about how you feel and take those questions as genuine: be like “since you don’t understand let me tell you how it is, how it’s always been and how it should be”. This is a good time to start having these almost annoying conversations but I think you’d rather have someone ask/question than assume. Like Radwa’s friend say yes it is a “they” problem not a “you” problem but this problem that is theirs will affect you at some point and it is your responsibility to do something about it. And that is only because you are black, we are black. From history, we have been at a disadvantage and unfortunately if we don’t change this for ourselves no one will. We don’t need a white person to validate what we are saying but white people are everywhere and you have to learn how to speak their language for the message to go through. Radwa said “you can be diverse as long as you speak the same way I do” and everyone laughed but it’s true, you gotta start there for them to understand that you should be allowed to have the freedom to speak the way you want to speak. Again, being at a disadvantage, we did not create this system, but here we are now, so we have to ethically manipulate the system to tweak it to our advantage. How are we going to create or live in a system that is fair for all if we don’t start by at least using the same means of communication, the same language? Even in this country Americans all speak English and don’t understand one another so efforts should be made to keep trying to understand one another.

    To Gabe’s point around minutes 35:51 which is in relations to the rest, we cannot expect to get to the point where others should let us be ourselves if we don’t teach them, show them, let them understand what it means to be ourselves because that is how prejudices and stereotypes are perpetrated, like Susan explicated.
    When you go to Latin America that is not the case because there is a bigger shared experience of what it means to be nationals of those countries, the history is different so it is normal that these issues do not arise, the same way it doesn’t arise for black people in African countries but the whites will tell you their experience in Africa is different while they don’t have this problem here in the states.
    African-Americans, for I don’t know what reasons, are still regarded as foreigners in this country and of course, it’s unfair and that is part of the genesis of your problems I would say. By the way I am not separating myself from this issue not at all I am speaking from my personal experience perspective and perhaps I am more lenient, tolerant and patient because I grew up having to explain myself to the world. Even when I go back to my own country I have to justify my behavior and I feel you, it is annoying, it is more annoying when you have lived in your own country, and your family has for centuries, and you still have to explain yourself because you are perceived as a stranger. Susan, you can relate as you said.

    I would have loved to hear more from Gabe who, as he said, is learning so much from this discussion but as the girls mentioned white women have to have solidarity with all women, well I believe it applies to (white) men too in the sense that now that you start understanding, now that you’ve heard what this is about, how are you going to contribute to ending the struggle? And in doing so, it will indeed validate that struggle (not that we need white men to validate us) because it is only when everyone recognizes it that it exists (even though it’s been there forever).

    I would like to add, we should act as if we were giving people the benefit of the doubt. I ran into a light-skin black person who did not like to dance and I had assumed he did and that was my mistake cause even among us black people we have different experiences. Who knows maybe I am advocating for ignorant people because, although very empathetic, I consider myself very ignorant, or naïve, and oblivious to other people’s struggles. I grew up in an environment where I never perceived my struggle to be the black people’s struggle. My sister has a completely different experience. Yes, I have been prejudiced against, few times, but I processed it more as “you don’t know my life, it’s not your fault, so let me tell you a thing or two”. Just like I didn’t know that black person’s life and assumed he loved to dance, he was like “you don’t know my life so let me tell you a thing or two”. My whole life and from a very young age I had to explain to people how come a little Ivorian girl found herself where she was wherever she was. You cannot pretend other people to know what your experience is and people are not going to let you live your life without criticizing, questioning or commenting on it until they understand it, it’s just how we human beings are (wired).

    Shinae, on your experience to Rwanda, you are applying this experience and the way people treated you based on two experiences and I am glad you had one good and one bad. Did you go to Uganda by yourself or as a peace corps volunteer? I can’t really comment on that if I don’t know the setting of that second experience, I would like to hear more about that. And you’re right, not all of Africa is welcoming, because even between us Africans we do not have or find that solidarity everywhere (i.e. Libya vs West Africa or within South Africa or the Maghreb vs the rest of the continent, ect). And yes, you can go back to Africa and feel welcomed, you just mentioned it yourself with your experience in Uganda. You just have to find the place where you feel most comfortable in, but I understand it is hard not to generalize. I never felt welcomed anywhere in the world, I even never felt like I belonged anywhere in the world and the solution to that is you just have to keep looking where it is you belong or feel welcomed and for you Shinae, Uganda seems to be option one.

    I feel you all on identities and the fact of having to adapt your identity or subscribe to their views of yourself as Ianthee said. But I called it having to adapt to where I don’t belong. And Ianthee preach girl (around minutes 53)!
    Great conclusions!

    Thank you to those who have taken the patience to read this. Looking forward to your next production.

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