Korri Wojack – Staff Writer
The Center for Inclusive Excellences’ goal here at Gustavus is to connect students with educational programming, campus events/activities, and resources that will help students dig deeper into the terms: culture, diversity, equity, inclusion, social justice, identity, and intersectionality. One way they do this is through hosting events on campus and partnering with other organizations in order to bring representation and education to students. November 9, Gustavus welcomed co-founder of the Humanize My Hoodie movement, Jason Sole.
Sole has been a criminal justice educator for a decade and is a national keynote speaker and trainer. He’s the past president of the Minneapolis NAACP in which he launched several public safety initiatives (e.g., Warrant Forgiveness Day) that led to harm reduction in Hennepin County. In 2014, he published his memoir, From Prison to Phd.: A Memoir of Hope, Resilience, and Second Chances. In addition, as the co-founder of the Humanize My Hoodie Movement, he’s challenging threat perceptions about Black men and women through clothing, art exhibitions, documentary screenings, and ally workshops.
Sole visited Gustavus Tuesday to host a dialogue workshop and documentary screening. The documentary explains how Humanize My Hoodie was founded by Sole and co-founder Andre Wright. Due to racial stereotyping and systemic oppression, both men struggled to get to where they are today, and came together to protest and educate through fashion. The Humanize My Hoodie Movement originated from a demand to end the killing of Black and Indigenous People across the world. “We recognize how hoodies have been used to amplify the myth of Black criminality.
Our mission is to debunk that stereotype by designing revolutionary social justice campaigns for Black and Indigenous People of Color to be HUMANIZED, not criminalized” says their website.
Humanize My Hoodie empowers Black people to stand up against racial injustice. “The hoodie invites conversations and we are using the Humanize My Hoodie sweatshirt, as well as educational tools, to arm our marginalized communities with innovative ways to uplift humanity and fight against violence and racism. We do this by providing jobs for poor youth, providing hoodies for entire communities who’ve experienced hate; providing a platform for the formerly incarcerated to be seen as more than their criminal record. We also provide opportunities for others to become allies.”
As well as creating hoodies that spark conversation of justice, the movement also provides homework help for struggling youth, and educational classes for both students and educators alike. The online workshop experience provides a comprehensive course on the Humanize My Hoodie Movement’s approach to preventing racist attacks on Black people, Indigenous People, and other People of Color.
The subject matter is pertinent to professionals in a wide array of backgrounds: public health, mental health, juvenile justice, criminal justice, education, higher education, foster care, and community-defined evidence – in its attention to clothing and the irrational fear of people of color, particularly Black people.
Participants will gain valuable knowledge to reduce threat perception, identify micro-aggressions, debunk myths of Black criminality, understand ally ship, and skills to effectively advocate for someone from a marginalized community.
In pairing with the Center for Inclusive Excellence, and Humanize My Hoodie, attending the documentary served as DEI education for students on campus. DEI is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and with the new initiative sparked students and faculty alike all must complete training in order to understand and be a more welcoming community for their brothers and sisters of color. “Gustavus seeks to be a community rich in racial, ethnic, geographical, social, and economic diversity, one that encompasses a variety of identities and affinities. As an institution, we must provide a campus climate that truly welcomes and values difference,” the DEI mission statement said.
Starting in 2018, Gustavus set three goals, one of which was to diversify and expand the Gustavus community. These coming years focus on building programs to reach and support more people so that students study in an environment that reflects the world in which they will live and work. Gustavus has created an organizational structure for responsibility and accountability for campus DEI efforts. So far, GAC has developed and implemented a diversity recruitment and retention plan for students, collected baseline data on diversity among faculty and staff, and offered all employees diversity, equity, and inclusion training and development.
To learn more about the Humanize My Hoodie movement, racial and ethnic justice, or DEI training at Gustavus, there are plenty of resources available in the Center or Inclusive Excellences office, and also online or on instagram to follow and stay updated on the Humanize My Hoodie movement.