Women's Empowerment Wednesday Lecture at IWU

The lecture "Women's Empowerment is Smart Economics" will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Illinois Wesleyan University's Hansen Student Center.

Through a gift from President Eckley, IWU's Economics Department is able to invite a distinguished member from the economics profession to deliver a lecture every year at the university. This year, Professor Yana van der Meulen Rodgers of Women's and Gender Studies at Rutgers University will discuss women's empowerment in the labor market and the consequent benefits to their families and economies as a whole.

"In the era of smart phones and smart cars, empowering women can be a 'gender-smart' way to achieve economy-wide gains," Rodgers argues.

Rodgers earned her Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University, and her interests include the impact of public policy and labor laws on women's employment and wages; how ownership rights and access to resources for women can not only improve their children's welfare but also reduce their household poverty level; the consequence of international trade on gender wage gaps; and how gender disparity, growth, and development are all interconnected, just to name a few.

Much of her research has focused on East and South Asian Economies and she has consulted for the Asian Development Bank and The World Bank.

Museum, ISU Spotlighting Latino Writer, Anthropologist

Illinois State University’s Latin American and Latino Studies Program and the McLean County Museum of History are teaming up to host a community reading group. First up: Dr. Sujey Vega’s book, Latino Heartland: Of Borders and Belonging in the Midwest, in preparation for Vega's visit to Bloomington-Normal.

Vega, an anthropologist at Arizona State University, will speak on the Illinois State campus on Thursday, February 23 at 7:00 p.m., Old Main Room, Bone Student Center. On Saturday, February 25 at 1 p.m., Mclean County Museum of History will hold a community “charla” with the author.

Latino Heartland offers an ethnography of the Latino and non-Latino residents of a small Indiana town, showing how national debate pitted neighbor against neighbor—and the strategies some used to combat such animosity. It conveys the lived impact of divisive political rhetoric on immigration and how race, gender, class, and ethnicity inform community belonging in the twenty-first century.  

Copies of the book can be borrowed from both the Bloomington and Normal public libraries and they are available for purchase at the museum, Babbitt’s Books, or Barnes and Noble. Both speaker programs are free and open to the public thanks to the Sage Foundation Fund at Illinois State.

My Sister's Keeper Promotes Campus Solidarity

The February Registered Student Organization (RSO) spotlight is My Sister’s Keeper. This organization is a female-led minority group aimed at advancing the minority community, standing for leadership, sisterhood, mentorship, community service, culture, and social outreach.

Current president Jamonica Randall has been involved with My Sister’s Keeper since her freshman year at Illinois State. As president, her role entails checking in with executive board members, making sure everything runs properly, and much more.

With Randall’s experience through My Sister’s Keeper, she is more willing to step out of her comfort zone and explore other opportunities offered on campus.

“This organization has helped me grow into a leader and has improved my professional skills as well,” Randall said.

For those who are interested in getting involved with My Sister’s Keeper, Randall encourages students to contact the organization or attend their meetings held every other Tuesday evening.

For more information on how to get involved by joining an RSO, contact Student Activities and Involvement at (309) 438-3212.

IWU Program Highlights Douglass' Pioneering Photo Work

The co-director of the Yale Public Humanities Program, Laura Wexler, will visit Illinois Wesleyan University Feb. 9-10 as part of the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program.

Wexler is professor of American studies, professor of film and media studies, and professor of women’s, gender and sexuality studies at Yale. She is founder and director of the Photographic Memory Workshop at Yale, and the former co-chair of the Yale Women Faculty Forum. She has received numerous fellowships and awards, including a Henry R. Luce Foundation Grant for a three-year project on “Women, Religion and Globalization.”  Since 2011, she has been principle investigator on a project to make a web-based interactive research system for mapping, searching and visualizing more than 170,000 photographs from 1935-1945 created by the Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information. Wexler holds M.A., M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees from Columbia University in English and Comparative Literature.

She will present a talk entitled, “Frederick Douglass: On Photography” at 4 p.m. Feb. 9 in Beckman Auditorium. In the 1860s, Douglass gave several public lectures where he discussed the importance of the then-new invention of photography. In “Pictures and Progress” he shared his vision of the role he hoped photography would play in fostering a more democratic society after the Civil War. Wexler’s lecture engages with his critical thought in the context of his time, and ours. The presentation is free and open to the public.

The purpose of the Visiting Scholar Program is to contribute to the intellectual life of the institution by making possible an exchange of ideas between the Visiting Scholars and the resident faculty and students. The Visiting Scholars spend two days on each campus and take full part in the academic life of the institution. Founded in 1776, Phi Beta Kappa’s mission is to champion education in the liberal arts and sciences, to recognize academic excellence, and to foster freedom of thought and expression. Illinois Wesleyan’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter received its charter in 2001. Wexler’s visit to Illinois Wesleyan is also a co-curricular programming event associated with Illinois Wesleyan’s intellectual theme Women’s Power, Women’s Justice.     

ISU Police Facility Aimed at Victim Comfort

Lenore Sobota

Lee News Service

A stark, windowless room with bare walls and hard chairs might be an effective place for police to interview crime suspects, but it's not necessarily the best setting for talking to crime victims.

So when the Illinois State University Police Department was doing a significant remodeling of one part of its offices, Chief Aaron Woodruff decided to add a more comfortable room for those victim interviews.

“It's not a new concept. Other departments have done this,” Woodruff said. “It's been one of my wish list items.”

Although the room can be used for interviewing anyone making a police report, it is particularly intended to put victims of sexual assault and domestic violence at ease, Woodruff said.

“They're both the most severe form of trauma,” he said.

Gail Trimpe-Morrow, coordinator of sexual assault prevention and survivor services at ISU, said the new room is a huge improvement and provides “a space that feels safe and comfortable.”

She said she hopes it will help encourage more victims to come forward and report crimes.

The room formerly used was “pretty sparse” and made victims “feel like they were being interrogated,” Woodruff said.

The new, 12-by-7-foot room is carpeted and has a small couch, a few pillows, two chairs and an end table with a lamp.

One wall is decorated with a simple painting of tree silhouettes and red cardinals. Another wall has a “word cloud” with phrases such as “We believe you” and “We care” along with individual words such as "courage," "understanding" and "support."

“I think the signage is critically important. … The sign sets a supportive tone,” said Trimpe-Morrow.

Woodruff came up with the list of words and basic concept. ISU Printing Services took care of creating the graphics.

Martin's Home Furniture of Bloomington donated furniture for the room.

Interviewing victims “has come a long way,” said Woodruff. “We're more trauma-informed.”

Trimpe-Morrow said being “trauma-informed” means recognizing that trauma victims present themselves in different ways and their recall is different from others.

“The interviewer needs to take things slowly and be more supportive,” she said.

Woodruff said victims need to know “we're going to take them seriously,” and that's an important goal of the new room.

“It lets our campus community know that we do care and we are supportive of victims and survivors of sexual assault,” Woodruff said.

Another advantage of the new room is its location on the opposite side of the part of the department used for interviewing suspects, which makes it less likely that the victim and suspect will cross paths while at the police department,” he said.

Solidarity Rally Addresses National Concerns

The Pantagraph

Josh Knight of Normal said he brought his 8-year-old son to a Not In Our Town Bloomington-Normal rally Wednesday night in Bloomington to show him how to be an American.

 Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner joining hands with Bloomington's Imam Abu-Emad Al-Talla and Mayor Chris Koos of Normal. (Photo by Cristian Jaramillo/WGLT)

Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner joining hands with Bloomington's Imam Abu-Emad Al-Talla and Mayor Chris Koos of Normal. (Photo by Cristian Jaramillo/WGLT)

"I wanted to show him that we treat all people equally and that we instill in him the values of American culture that we believe in and that is freedom for all people and to be an open and welcoming person," said Knight.

Nadia Khusro, a Normal Community High School senior, said she was born in the United States but has Muslim relatives living in South Asia. 

"They might not be able to visit us because they are not Christian and they are not white," she said. "It makes me scared and it also makes me a little angry.

"They are my family, and they should have as much of a right to visit this country as anybody else."

They were among about 1,200 people who filled the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts auditorium to capacity in a show of support for their immigrant neighbors and to protest President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration, making the rally one of the largest in recent memory in the Twin Cities.

Imam Sheikh Abu Emad Al-Talla of Masjid Ibrahim, a Bloomington mosque, was the first of many speakers who brought the crowd to their feet when he said, "On behalf of all Muslims all over the world: We love you guys. We are part of the United States of America."

NIOT organized the event following Trump's order on Friday banning entry to the United States citizens of seven predominantly Muslim nations for 90 days, all refugees for 120 days and people from Syria indefinitely.

On its Facebook page, NIOT asked the public to come “stand with our Muslim and other neighbors.” It also asked elected officials to attend, affirm the First Amendment's protection of freedom of religion stand against a registry of people based on their faith.

Five people stood outside the BCPA to show support for Trump's immigration policy, including Ward 3 aldermanic candidate Gary Lambert.

Julia Reinthaler said the group was "demonstrating our support of President Trump in his efforts to improve our national security by putting together a system that will fully, thoroughly vet any immigrants coming into this country.

"We believe in immigration and we're pro-immigrant, but we are very much supportive of this administration's efforts to overhaul our system and better serve the national interest," she said.

In the event, Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner said he had mixed emotions about the event.

"I am so thrilled to see this room packed," he said. "I am saddened that we have to be here to try to defend the idea that all people are created equal."

Speaking of the United States as a nation of immigrants, Normal Mayor Chris Koos spoke of his family's Irish and German roots.

"They came here because they left a hellish environment where they could no longer thrive," he said. "So they traveled halfway around the world to find a place where they could better their lives and their family's lives and the lives of their descendants.  

"So today if you come to our community from South Asia, from Mexico, Central America, from Sudan, from Libya and the five other now-named countries, and you come here to find a better way for you and your family we welcome you.

"If you choose us, we choose you. Welcome home," he added, drawing a standing ovation.

The crowd continued to applaud and stand as the two mayors and Al-Talla clasped raised hands in a show of solidarity.

Rabbi Rebecca Dubowe of the Moses Montefiore Temple in Bloomington urged residents not to live as strangers.

"During the past several generations many of my people have lived as strangers in lands not ours," she said. "On occasion we were treated well. Most of the time not.

"There was a time when our nation closed its doors on Jews escaping persecution. While some found safety in other countries, many were refused and ultimately perished in the Holocaust," said Dubowe, adding, "We cannot make this mistake again."

Mandava Rao of the Hindu Temple Bloomington-Normal read some Hindu mantras, and the Rev. Molly Ward, an Episcopal priest, closed with a prayer.

"This meant a lot to us — such tremendous support and tremendous energy from the whole community regardless of their faith, regardless of their ethnicity," said Mohammed Zaman, president of Masjid Ibrahim, at the conclusion of the  90-minute event.

"This shows that when a community gets together they can fight any evil, whether it's national, international or on any level."

Camille: Resolutions and Resolute Action

Camille Taylor

WJBC Forum

Rather than make resolutions I don’t keep, I focus on my hopes and dreams for the New Year. Here’s my list.

I hope to increase my advocacy for things I support, as well as things I’m against. I will use a variety of information sources to learn how best to advocate such as news updates from the League of Women Voters, Organizing for Action, and Action 36. I plan to be vigilant about what our legislators at the state and national level are doing and won’t hesitate to contact them to share my thoughts whether it involves the lack of an agreement to develop a state budget or the intent of the Republicans to repeal Obamacare.

I will be closely watching the new president, hoping that he will demonstrate responsibility and respect for the position he was elected to. I will not be silent if he chooses to be the Commander and Chief via Twitter using harmful and inflammatory rhetoric like he did during the campaign, nor will I be silent about cabinet choices who have demonstrated divisiveness and harm to our country via their past policy and/or business decisions.

I hope to increase the presence of the Not In Our School efforts locally, as well as continue to work with Not In Our Town to make our community more safe and inclusive for everyone. I hope to connect more with family and friends even without the benefit of social media. I don’t want to ever lose that “personal touch” that lets people know I care about them and love them.

I hope I’m healthy and strong, so that I can continue to care for those I love. I dream that students who depend on financial aid for college and people who have basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter can be served despite the stalemate in Springfield. I hope and dream for peace in our world whether domestic or abroad.

I hope that people will take the time to look at their source for accurate news as opposed to reading ‘fake news” and then using this information to make decisions and form opinions. I hope I learn new things this year and use that knowledge to benefit others. Last, I hope that people begin to acknowledge that “words matter,” and being polite and using good old fashioned manners should not be the exception, but the rule.

BCAI Hosts Self-Defense Training, Acting Workshop

ISU's Black Actors League is presenting a six-week workshop to cultivate young artists and inspire/encourage diversity.

The workshop will cover the importance of warming up, basic fundamentals of acting, improv, and monologues.

Sessions start Friday, Feb. 10, 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. at the BCAI School of Arts at 107 East Chestnut Street, Bloomington, and will continue on the following Fridays, Feb 17 and 24 and March 4 and 24, at the same time at the school. The workshop concludes with an April 14 showcase on the ISU campus (location to be announced).

Cost of the workshop is $25 per student, and covers all six sessions, a certificate, the showcase, and snacks. For information, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/1244322858983074/.

The Black Actors League is a registered student organization whose focus is to bring diversity and discussion to ISU's theater department.

"In this organization, we learn about black playwrights, black works, and black actors; we also perform chosen or original works," according to the League's Facebook page. "When events in the world take place concerning our African-American counterparts, we bring those issues to our theater department. Blacks Actors League is open to any and everyone with a passion for exploring diversity in culture and art."

BCAI also is sponsoring with NIOTBN its first-ever free defense conference tomorrow, for individuals ages 7 to adult. Sessions are broken into two groups, for those 7 through 11, and those from 12 to adult.

The following sessions are planned:
Financial Defense: State Farm Bank
Identity Theft Defense: Legal Shield representatives
Physical Self-Defense: Combat Martial Arts
Peace Defense: Palms Together Yoga
Ambition Defense: BCAI School of Arts CEO
Legal Defense: awaiting confirmation
Health Defense: Dr Josh Johnson, Johnson Family Chiropractic
Cultural Defense, with an open panel conversation

Refreshments will be provided. Participants are asked to bring a notebook and pen or pencil, and a bottle of water.

Putting Out The Welcome Sign

Mel Lunny

NIOTBN

Despite the anti-immigrant and racist rhetoric we have all witnessed in recent times, there are always a handful of citizens fighting to make their communities more welcoming. 

One such citizen is Matthew Bucher, a pastor at Immanuel Mennonite Church in Harrisburg, VA, who shared a message with his congregation in response to negative comments made by politicians with regards to immigrants.  It read, “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor” and appeared in Spanish, English, and Arabic on a simple sign in front of his church.  After a positive response to the sign from the local community, smaller yard signs were created and quickly sold out.

When calls for the signs started to come from other communities, the church posted the design online,  and also offered other language options to adapt the sign based on each local community. 

Today, the signs can be found in communities around the United States and Canada, including Bloomington-Normal—Thanks to Pamela and Herb Eaton, who saw the signs in Harrisonburg, VA while visiting their daughter.  They decided to bring the welcoming message to their own community, so after returning to their home near downtown Bloomington, they ordered 100 signs to be printed locally.

Pamela told WGLT, "I think it's important that when people come into older neighborhoods, especially like where I live in Dimmitt's Grove, they realize just because you may have a foreign last name or speak a different language, you in fact are welcome and we're glad you're our neighbor.” 

Signs cost $10, which allows for a small profit to be donated to the Western Avenue Community Center and the Dimmit’s Grove Neighborhood Association.  If you’d like to order a sign to display locally, call Pamela Eaton at 309-829-3424.

There is also a Facebook page for those interested in purchasing or printing signs in other communities.

Speak Up: Responding to Bigotry

The Southern Poverty Law Center gathered hundreds of stories of everyday bigotry from people across the United States. They told their stories through e-mail, personal interviews and at roundtable discussions in four cities. People spoke about encounters in stores and restaurants, on streets and in schools. No matter the location or relationship, the stories echo each other.

Your brother routinely makes anti-Semitic comments. Your neighbor uses the N-word in casual conversation. Your co-worker ribs you about your Italian surname, asking if you're in the mafia. Your classmate insults something by saying, "That's so gay."

And you stand there, in silence, thinking, "What can I say in response to that?" Or you laugh along, uncomfortably. Or, frustrated or angry, you walk away without saying anything, thinking later, "I should have said something."

People spoke about encounters in stores and restaurants, on streets and in schools. They spoke about family, friends, classmates and co-workers. They told us what they did or didn't say — and what they wished they did or didn't say.

And no matter the location or relationship, the stories echo each other.

When a Native American man at one roundtable discussion spoke of feeling ostracized at work, a Jewish woman nodded in support. When an African American woman told of daily indignities of racism at school, a white man leaned forward and asked what he could do to help. When an elderly lesbian spoke of finally feeling brave enough to wear a rainbow pin in public, those around the table applauded her courage.

For more insights, visit  https://www.splcenter.org/20150126/speak-responding-everyday-bigotry

BLM Meeting Airs Profiling Grievances

Kevin Barlow

The Pantagraph

Josh Lewis, an 11-year-old Bloomington Junior High School student, says he used to like police officers, participating in “Ice Cream with a Cop” events and talking to officers at school sporting events and activities.

But that all changed a few months back, he told a crowd of about 300 people at a public meeting Thursday at Mount Pisgah Baptist Church with Bloomington Police officials and hosted by Black Lives Matter Bloomington-Normal.

“One day, my ride picked me up and was confused when we got pulled over a couple of blocks from my house,” he said. “There was no way we had broken any traffic laws.

"The driver was worried about getting a ticket because he had left his wallet with his license at home," he said. "But the officer didn’t want to talk with him. He wanted to talk with me.

"I was nervous. I had heard about black people getting shot by police.”

Lewis said the officer informed him he was investigating a car theft in the area. The driver, according to Lewis, asked if he was going to get a ticket for driving without his license and was told that he wouldn’t.

“I was confused by this,” Lewis said. “I was relieved when he left.

"Then I got pissed when I realized what happened. Was the officer thinking I stole the car or knew something about it? I don’t even drive. But this was profiling. The driver was white and (the officer) didn’t say anything to him.”

Lewis was one of several members of the Black Lives Matter group who spoke at the meeting, detailing incidents where they felt they were unjustly treated by police because of their race.

Group member Ky Ajayi moderated the program.

“There is a lot of misunderstanding of who we are and what we stand for, and even though we are only 2 months old, we are already controversial,” he said. “There are folks out there who don’t know us, don’t like us and have decided they can’t work with us because we say ‘Black lives matter.’"

"Saying that shouldn’t be controversial. We should all be saying ‘Black lives matter’ because when we say that, we are lifting up a problem," he said.

"When people say ‘Save the whales,’ they aren’t advocating the destruction of all other sea life. A problem has been identified and a call to action is being sent.”

Bloomington Police Chief Brendan Heffner was allowed to make opening remarks for about five minutes. He was not permitted to comment on the stories that were told, but he was allowed to answer only "yes" or "no" to prepared questions asked by Ajayi.

“There are two sides to every story,” Heffner said after the meeting. “Obviously, tonight, I had no chance to respond and this was not a meeting for dialogue. But I heard it and if those things occurred, that’s not good, but I need information.”

Several issues were discussed, including the use of cameras in undisclosed, public areas of largely minority neighborhoods; the use of body cameras on officers; police training and oversight; and policies related to community police and "broken windows policing" (questioning anyone in the area when a crime is suspected).

Also discussed was a proposal to use a vacant but rehabilitated house owned Mid Central Community Action at 828 W. Jefferson St. for a police substation, which has drawn criticism from among west-side residents.

Under the plan up for a City Council vote next month, officers from every patrol shift could stop by the house to fill out reports, eat meals, take breaks and be out and about in the neighborhood.

“Personally, I am anti-police substation in my neighborhood,” said west-side resident Sonny Garcia. “Think about being in an abusive relationship: You get separated and then the abuser want to come back in.

"Until there is more training for police on race issues and a level of trust is established, I don’t think the substation is a good idea,” he said.

Uptown Christmas Embraces Inclusivity

In the wake of the social media furor over the Minnesota Mall of America's first African-American Santa Claus, Uptown Normal and the NAACP proudly partnered in an inclusive holiday at Santa's Station uptown.

All volunteers Saturday were persons of color, "in the hopes of creating a more inclusive experience for members of our community."

The Mall of America, the largest indoor shopping center in the United States in Bloomington, Minnesota, had never hosted a black Santa for its Christmas festivities since it opened in 1992. This year the owners of the Mall of America’s Santa Experience decided to change that and sought out multicultural Santas to add to their roster.

That search resulted in the discovery of Larry Jefferson, a retired U.S. Army veteran who’s been working as Santa throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area since 1999. After meeting another Santa from the Mall of America at a Santa convention in Missouri, Jefferson was interviewed and hired to work at the shopping behemoth for four days.

Unfortunately, the mall's decision met with a torrent of racist posts and comments on social media. 

"You know, I’m just Santa, and it has been blessing to see all kids smile when they see me," Jefferson responded. "I’m a Santa for all. Whether it’s African-American kids, Hispanic, Asian, caucasian, it doesn’t matter. It’s not about race for me. Santa is Santa. But for kids to see a Santa that looks like them is like, wow!"

 

Women's Justice, Empowerment Focus of IWU Symposium

 Illinois Wesleyan University’s Ames Library’s main floor buzzed with energy on Dec. 7, as nearly 100 students from nine cluster courses presented their work during a closing symposium and open house.  

Some had created colorful posters, drawing faculty and peers to their projects covering topics as diverse as child soldiers in a Ugandan militant group, to a local Autism McLean board member.  Others huddled around Chromebooks perched atop the wooden magazine stands, showing visitors their Prezis on African-American women in education. And a group of students in Associate Professor of Political Science Kathleen Montgomery’s “Women and Politics” course held court around a TV screen, presenting a visual “State of the Discipline” talk.

Carole Myscofski, director of the Women’s and Gender Studies program, said she believes events such as the closing symposium provide an important learning experience for students because the format necessitates a short speech and visual summary of their work.

"Visual Ethnographic Methods" student Tristan Fox '18 (right) worked with Presbyterian minister and writer, Rev. Susan Baller-Shepard, to create a visual metaphor of her life. 

“For some students — the Gateway students, for example — this is the first opportunity to create poster presentations, which is a learning process in itself,” said Myscofski, who is also the McFee Professor of Religion. An open house format provides relatively low-pressure opportunities for students to reflect on their class or a particular research project, to sum it succinctly with both images and words, and to offer their interpretations orally, according to faculty.

Myscofski said she was very impressed by the students’ visual presentations, both on posters and through computerized displays. “The students were well instructed, so credit also goes to the faculty who guided them,” she said. “Many of the presentations featured good graphic design, balancing photos or charts with captions or longer text which explained each element, and helped the viewer understand the core ideas in several ways.”

“I was also impressed with the sheer variety of approaches to the presentations,” she added. “Some students emphasized dramatic photos or charts while providing brief, focused captions, while others offered more textual explanations with images only in supporting roles.”

This semester more than 25 courses were associated with the 2016-2017 intellectual theme Women’s Power, Women’s Justice. Faculty electing to encourage their students to participate in the closing symposium included: Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology/Anthropology Nicole Brown, Assistant Professor of History Amy Coles, Visiting Assistant Professor of Educational Studies Maggie Evans, Professor of Anthropology Rebecca Gearhart Mafazy, Professor of History April Schultz, Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology Marie Nebel-Schwalm and Montgomery. Chosen by a working group of faculty, staff and students, each year’s theme is designed to encourage deep thinking and discussion of its many aspects. Next semester more than 25 events associated with the intellectual theme are planned. Follow the theme on Facebook and Instagram

Illinois Study Shows Sexual Harassment, Homophobia More Common in Middle Schools

An increasing number of middle school students are becoming victims of verbal sexual harassment such as comments, jokes or gestures, a study has found.

In the study, the team followed 1,300 children from middle school to high school in Illinois, and found that nearly half -- 43 per cent -- of the middle school students had been the victims of verbal sexual harassment such as sexual comments, jokes or gestures during the prior year.

"Sexual harassment among adolescents is directly related to bullying, particularly homophobic bullying," said Dorothy L. Espelage, professor at the University of Florida.

Homophobic name-calling emerges among fifth and sixth grade bullies as a means of asserting power over other students, Espelage said.

Youths who are the targets of homosexual name-calling and jokes then feel compelled to demonstrate they are not gay or lesbian by sexually harassing peers of the opposite sex.

While verbal harassment was more common than physical harassment or sexual assault, students also reported having been touched, grabbed or pinched in a sexual way.

Some also said peers had brushed up against them in a suggestive manner.

Students also reported being forced to kiss the perpetrators, having their private areas touched without consent and being "pantsed" -- having their pants or shorts jerked down by someone else in public.

Many reported having been the target of sexual rumours and victimised with sexually explicit graffiti in school locker rooms or bathrooms, the study revealed.

Furthermore, 14 per cent of students were found to negate the 'upsetting experiences' by writing that their peers' behaviour was "not really sexual harassment" because the incidents were "meaningless" or intended as jokes.

The children who were dismissive of sexual harassment experiences were more likely to perpetrate homophobic name-calling, the researchers observed.

"Students failed to recognise the seriousness of these behaviours because teachers and school officials failed to address them. Prevention programmes need to address what is driving this dismissiveness," Espelage noted in the paper published in the journal Children and Youth Services Review.

Atlanta Media Pioneer to Headline King Awards Luncheon

The annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards Program, represents a commitment to the legacy of Dr. King, and recognizes those individuals in our community who have helped to keep his dream alive. This year will be the 41st anniversary celebration of the Dr. King Awards Program. Bloomington-Normal's Dr. King celebration is one of the longest continuous running programs in the country.

Nominations for the 2017 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards are due by Tuesday.Winners will be announced and awards will be presented at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards Luncheon on Saturday, January 14, 2017 at the Brown Ballroom at Illinois State University's Bone Student Center. 

Tickets for the 2017 luncheon honoring Dr. King are available from City of Bloomington and Normal Human Relations Commission members. Tickets may also be purchased at Bloomington and Normal city halls. Single tickets are $20. Reserved tables are available.

This year’s guest speaker will be broadcast journalism pioneer Monica Pearson, who in 1975 became the first minority and first woman to anchor the evening news in Atlanta, Georgia. Over a 37-year career with WSB, the CBS network affiliate in Atlanta, Ms. Pearson won numerous journalism and humanitarian awards, including 33 local and regional Emmy Awards.  In March 2012, the bipartisan Georgia delegation to the U.S. Congress honored her on the floor of the U.S. House as "a true pioneer and a trailblazer in television news."

Husband: Race Best Addressed When Kids are Young

As classrooms across the country become increasingly diverse, educators have mixed opinions about the best ways to address the subject of race and racism. Much of the concern centers on how old children should be when they begin learning about issues of race.

 Terry Husband, associate professor in the Illinois State University College of Education, is a strong advocate for addressing the subject of race when children are young. “I believe children as early as age 3 or 4 begin to crystallize their notions about what men do, what women do, what white people do, what black people do, what Hispanic people do, etc.,” he said. “But the question is, how do we teach young children in particular about issues of race in ways that are both developmentally appropriate for their age level as well as critical?”

Teaching young children about Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks without discussing slavery and the Klu Klux Klan would be giving them an inaccurate view of history. —Terry Husband

Husband has believed that for years there has been a romanticized version of race and the fallacy is “that race isn’t something in society that is conflicting, that race isn’t something that is socially constructive, and that race doesn’t exist.” He believes this misconception is more harmful than productive, and when these young children become fifth-, sixth-, seventh-, or even eighth-graders and see the world, they are very disillusioned. “I argue that on a lot of levels, what you don’t teach is as equally instructive or powerful as what you do teach—especially as it relates to issues of diversity,” he said.

Before Husband began teaching at Illinois State University, he taught first grade at an urban school in Columbus, Ohio. He introduced his young class to racism using drama.

He developed 10 lessons on African-American history that were organized chronologically and included the beginnings of slavery, the anti-slavery and abolitionist movement, and desegregation and freedom. “From my vantage point, teaching young children about Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks without discussing slavery and the Klu Klux Klan would be giving them an inaccurate view of history,” explained Husband.

During one of the lessons in his classroom, the students read and discussed select passages from Now Let Me Fly: The Story of a Slave Familyby Dolores Johnson and If You Lived Where There was Slavery in America by Anne Kamme. Husband then divided the students into two groups and asked them to imagine they were either slaves working on a cotton plantation or slave masters who forced the slaves to pick cotton.

“What becomes evident in this example is that drama provided a space within the lesson where students began to move from superficial notions of race to a better understanding of the competing interests between the slaves and slave masters during this period of time in history,” said Husband.  He felt this lesson helped his students to better empathize with the emotions associated with racial injustice.

Husband noted some very significant findings from the study. Students moved beyond the notion of race and began to think of it outside the idea of politics and as something more rooted in society. “There is so much attached to race—it’s socially constructed and it’s historically constructed,” said Husband. “It’s not just I’m black, you’re white, but with race there is this awareness of the historical nuances or baggage that come along with it.”

Husband noted that ideas of racism are deeply subjective, vary from person to person, and are not necessarily based on one’s race. “During the lesson on the abolitionist movement, the students began to wrestle with the idea that some whites worked toward helping slaves achieve freedom while some slaves refused to escape from the plantation,” he said. “In this dramatic interaction, students began to construct and communicate notions of race as a largely complicated concept.”

Husband also discovered that race is deeply systemic. He used children’s literature books to look at some of the legislation about integration. The class read about Ruby Bridges’ experiences being the first African-American girl to integrate into the school system in New Orleans. “It was really meaningful for the children to see the pictures of Ruby walking to school being escorted by the U.S. Marshals,” said Husband. “The students were able to see racism is built into our institutions in society and if you want to counter-resist this, you have to do it at the individual and the institutional level–they both work simultaneously.”

The dramatic lessons allowed students to communicate and express an understanding of race and racism in a constructive, non-traditional way. Moving forward, Husband believes that young children need to be made aware of racism so as they get older they can build on that awareness. “The process needs to begin early so when they are in high school and college, there isn’t a large level of cultural dissonance,” he said. He also believes this awareness will help them later in life. “Eventually, when they are in a position in society to be one of the gatekeepers, then they can be sensitive to racial issues,” said Husband.