Author: Veronica Jordan-Davis
Identity is a Hopkins student group that was founded in 2009. Our mission is to make the Johns Hopkins community, and the greater community of Baltimore, aware of current national and international issues concerning social injustice. We host events and programs to combat stereotypes and challenge the way people think.
We currently have over 350 members, and hold smaller weekly meetings to discuss current events concerning social injustice, such as France’s legislation to ban the wearing of burkas in public areas, or the controversy over building a community center at Ground Zero.
We have multiple events per semester, and we love to hear new ideas from members and students about what issues or events they would like to see brought to campus. We recruit for new members all year long, and have opportunities for executive board positions for especially dedicated students.
Some of out past events have included:
- “Unveiling the Mystery: A Panel Discussion on the Hijab.” At this event, 3 Muslim JHU students shared their personal stories and reasons for wearing (or not wearing) a hijab, and its significance in their lives.
- “Remnants of the Caste System: In India, America and on Campus.” This event focused on the continuing social stigma concerning caste designation.
- Showing of “Wedding Crashers” on the Beach during Spring Fair. This event aimed to look at gender roles and stereotypes in a fun way.
- …And many more!
I founded this group after hearing about an incident where a Muslim family got kicked off of an airplane by the management because an elderly woman felt unsafe flying with them onboard. This truly angered me, and I wanted to do something to address other issues like this. There are cultural groups on campus, as well as international activist groups, but until Identity’s creation, there was no arena aimed at raising awareness of social injustice issues that can be prevented through knowledge and understanding.
What keeps me excited about the group is the student response. Many of our events have created a huge buzz on campus. Students are still talking about events that occurred over a year ago. Most importantly, Identity is making a difference in the comfort students experience on campus. Female students who wear a hijab confided that they felt more at ease being on campus after the “Unveiling the Mystery” event, because students would know about the hijab’s meaning to them. At the conclusion of our first event, about Sikhism and racial profiling following the September 11th attacks, a freshman Sikh who wore his hair in a turban, as our speaker did, Sonny Caberwal, told me that he felt so much more comfortable at JHU because of Identity’s efforts. He said that between having fliers of the turbaned speaker all around campus, and the audience’s opportunity to hear Caberwal at the event, other students began to ask him about his religion and why he wore a turban. He said that he felt more accepted and less self-conscious going to classes and meeting new people. I receive similar comments after the majority of our events, which makes me feel that the group is needed and worthwhile.
Identity is proud of the outcomes of our programming and we look forward to bringing further awareness of social injustices to campus. We hope to see you at our meetings and events next year!
If you would like to get in contact with Identity, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.