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ONLINE: "Blacker the Berry" highlights women of color

by Jaymi Gooden - Campus Talk Editor
Sat, Mar 4th 2017 07:15 pm

 "The Blacker the Berry, The Sweeter the Fruit" event was held in the Seymour College Union at The College at Brockport on February 28. Alpha Phi Alpha, an intercollegiate fraternity on campus, in collaboration with the Association of Latino American Students gathered together to talk about what it means to be a woman of color.

The event began with an assortment of berries and chocolates that were open to the public before the panel members took their places. The panel was made up of women of color from different backgrounds affiliated with the college. Among them were Visiting Assistant Professor, Dr. Naomi R. Williams, Cultural Council Senator and senior ALAS member Illeen Diplan, Zeta Phi Beta senior Christal Dewberry and more. The women answered questions asked by audience members and shared some of their own experiences concerning race and gender.

Alpha Phi Alpha, an all male fraternity founded in Ithaca, New York at Cornell University in 1906, has a nonstop goal of promoting  a close bond among the small population of African-Americans present on a college campus. The Brockport chapter, which has been alive since 1987, embody the same ideals. Although no women are allowed in this fraternity, women's issues are a core topic of Alpha Phi.

"We do often collaborate with women in the community," Cesar Coronado, a member of Alpha Phi and a moderator at the event, said. "We have very close relationships with them because we like having them a part of the culture."

Other males of Alpha Phi agreed as they fired question after question at the all-female panel. Throughout the night's discussion, it became very clear that women of color play a key role in race and gender issues not just outside of their ethnic communities, but within as well.

"Before, we start to bridge the gap between minority and women and non minority women," one audience member said, "we have to fix the issues that we have within our own culture."

Illeen Diplan, an Afro-Latina, agreed.

"One of the issues is that a lot of people don't realize that hispanics are black," Diplan said. "People also don't realize that Latina is an ethnicity not a race, but I do accept myself as an Afro-Latina and a black woman."

Diplan and the other panel members also encouraged men of color to aid women of color in their advancement by supporting and embracing their point of views.

"If you're a man of color," Diplan said. "Embrace women and work hard to empower them because people of color need that support from one another.

The "Blacker the Berry, The Sweeter the Fruit," ended around eight o'clock with panel members, students and faculty finishing off what was left of the night's treats. This was one of many of Alpha Phi Alpha's services throughout the year. Coronado hopes that discussion panels like this one continue at Brockport.

"We do our best to do what we can in the community," Coronado said. "Even the little things like this panel; it gives something for people to take away and it's a positive experience for everybody who attends."