Thursday, December 31, 2009

Why We Can’t Wait: A Tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.

From UC News:

The University of Cincinnati African American Cultural and Research Center (AACRC) celebrates the memory and work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a program to be held at noon on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010, in MainStreet Cinema, Tangeman University Center (TUC). The AACRC Choir will perform and excerpts from King's "Why We Can’t Wait" letter will be read. The event will also include a brief video tribute to King."Why We Can’t Wait: A Tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.” features UC President Gregory H. Williams as the keynote speaker, the first African American to serve as UC's president.

What: "Why We Can’t Wait: A Tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.”When: Wednesday, at noon, on Jan. 13, 2010 Where: MainStreet Cinema, Tangeman University Center (TUC)The event is free and open to the public.“It is our hope that students, faculty and staff will come out to honor a man who blazed a trail for civil rights, the effects of which can clearly be seen today,” says Jasmine Buxton, program coordinator in the AACRC.

The author of three published books, UC President Gregory H. Williams is known for his award-winning and best-selling memoir, "Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black." President Williams has earned five degrees, including a JD and PhD from George Washington University, and also holds four honorary doctorates.For more information about the event or the African American Cultural and Research Center, visit their Web page or call 513-556-1177.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Try This Along with RAPPers!

As RAPPers know, our members are often asked to write in their journals between sessions. Winter break gave them a month between sessions, so we're working on a somewhat longer piece.
Give it a go if you've got some time!
We’ve explored several ways in which oppression might be perpetuated throughout fall quarter. We ask that you reflect on a few in particular over winter break.
In particular, reflect on the last three dimensions we’ve explored:
1. That oppression might operate on individual, institutional, and social/cultural levels;
2. That oppression might be perpetuated through conscious and unconscious ways;
3. That oppression might be perpetuated through attitudes/beliefs and behaviors.
Over the break, create a visual aid, summary, or other means of conveying how these may (or may not) be connected.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Reflecting Back and Looking Forward

RAPP previously did two really cool things that I can't wait to do again: Reunions!
We have documentation of big group reunions at the five-year and ten-year points. As we're approaching our twenty-fifth year, I feel we'd be remiss if we didn't celebrate the quarter-century of hard work this program has been.

Coming soon will be requests for volunteers to serve on committees for two things. The first is a rebranding campaign we'll be doing. The second is THE REUNION!
If you'd be interested in helping make the reunion a reality (next homecoming season), keep your eye out for the call and get in touch with me!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Out Today: Appreciation Bags

Last year we ended fall quarter with something we think may become a RAPP tradition: Appreciation bags.
Appreciation bags are a group project. Every member of RAPP gets a bag and we all share piles of scrap paper. We hang out for about an hour (great during the stressful pre-exam week!), listen to music, chat, and write notes to each other about why we appreciate each other.
We drop our notes of appreciation into each other's bags "Valentine's mailbox" style. We include people who can't attend the meeting by having bags available for them so that folks who are there can write to them knowing the bag will be delivered later.
Now's the time for that! I'm dropping them in the mail today.
In the end, we all have with a bag full of reasons why our RAPPmates appreciate us.

You can join us in this by dropping notes of appreciation to people who positively impact you!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Goodbye to Another RAPP Leader

This January, Student Activities and Leadership Development will be saying goodbye to another person who's been key to RAPP's success.
Un Kyong Ho began working with RAPP as a Diversity Education graduate assistant with RAPP XXI. She was a busy and involved GA despite the demanding academic program she was in - the joint JD and MA in Women's Studies program. She facilitated her first year with Matt McCaren (group pictured below).
Un led the facilitation team from there out. She facilitated with Steve Succop for RAPP XXII - fully planning the curriculum and leading all sessions. This year she had another challenge along with her studies - bringing into the world a "RAPP baby." She managed to balance her duties as a parent, student, and worker with amazing success.
Un took the position as Program Coordinator of Diversity Education and fully coordinated RAPP XXIII, working with the facilitators Steve Succop and Rebecca Lehman. She also took Worldfest to a whole new level that year by pushing into social justice exploration with "Worldfest Goes Green!" She also advised students from previous RAPPs in their efforts to bring back RAPPORT.
During this year, Un also coordinated the successful push for University re-investment in RAPP. She supervised the writing of a proposal for Diversity Council support of RAPP - and garnered us the funds that has paid for a full-time RAPP program coordinator.
In the last and this years' RAPPs, Un has remained strongly connected in an advisorial role and continued offering training to our campus and community as well as co-coordinating RAPPORT and continuing to offer thought-provoking programming.
On top of all of that, Un has continued being an amazing parent, an active community advocate on several political issues/campaigns, and continued her studies.
Un will be greatly missed in SALD and RAPP! She's pictured above with her "traditional" SALD parting gift - an inscribed crystal canister.

Please join us in our goodbye party on Un's last day:
Monday, January 4th
6th Floor Open Space
Steger Student Life Center

Monday, December 21, 2009

From Linda Bates Parker's Memorial

This past Saturday was the funeral for Linda Bates Parker at St. Joseph's Church in downtown Cincinnati. The visitation and service were, in many ways, a reflection of the global legacy of great work Ms. Bates Parker leaves behind. St. Joseph's was overflowing with family and friends and wishes and prayers were sent from people from all the world who weren't able to make the treck to town but wanted to convey the positive impact Ms. Bates Parker had on them.

Below is the family tribute about Linda Bates Parker from the program. I think it describes well much of the powerfully impactful life she led, so I've copied it verbatim.

A Family Tribute

Linda Bates Parker spent her life fighting against the odds and winning. By all predictions Linda was born to fail: One of two children born in the 40’s in the West End, father deceased, raised by a widowed mother. But the predictors of success forgot to tell Linda she was not supposed to succeed against the odds. For Linda truly succeeded on all accounts.

Linda was a daughter, sister, wife, career woman and friend. Linda fiercely loved her mother and brother and walked a special journey with each of them, doing all she could to make their lives comfortable. They now continue their walk together, her father Ernest Bates who died when Linda was 10, her mother Mary Arnold Bates having died on May 17, 2008 and her brother Ralph Bates who died on April 22nd, 2009. Linda never lost her love of the West End. Baptized at St. Joseph Church and educated in the Catholic school system, she continued to worship and support her church home. One of her greatest and most treasured awards came from St. Joseph Church who recognized her with the “Distinguished Service Award” in 2003. A bright and gifted student, Linda did not have the money for college. Through a full scholarship from the Charles Yeazer Foundation, Linda graduated from the University of Dayton. She took pride in receiving her scholarship and diligently worked to provide similar opportunities for young black women, especially those in the West End. A strong believer in “Pay it Forward,” she created the Linda Bates Parker Scholarship Fund at the University of Cincinnati.

Linda and Breland were married for 37 years. As a mother, she raised two creative children: her daughter Robbin and her son Brandon. She was a devoted and loving “grandmommy” to Taja, Isaiah and Anye Shabazz, encouraging Taja in her career endeavors, Isaiah in Taekwondo, Anye in dance, and each of them to excel in school. Linda made sure she provided whatever was necessary to ensure a level playing field for them. Linda did not join clubs or organizations; instead she created them, not just to have something to do, but because she saw a need or she saw a void that prevent her and others from succeeding. As a little girl in the West End, she created a club for her friends called the Polly Pigtails. As a young woman, she created JASCA, an organization whose purpose was to provide a social outlet for her and her female friends. On the University of Cincinnati campus, where Linda spent 39 years as an employee, she was instrumental in the creation of the Racial Awareness Pilot Project (RAPP), an organization designed to bring students of all races together. As Director of the Career Development Center, Linda created Advance, an organization whose purpose is to introduce and expose minority students to the world of business. Her work with college students included a span of more than 25 years as a writer for Black Collegiate magazine. When her son was in high school, she created the Summer Incentive Program (SIP) to encourage young black men to not only finish high school and go on to college, but to also see the special value they bring as black men.

Perhaps her greatest creation was Black Career Women, Inc. known as BCW. This organization, founded in 1977 continues to exist today. Thousands of women have been able to advance their careers because of workshops, career counseling and networking that resulted from being affiliated with BCW. An outgrowth of BCW was Execucircle, an international professional development organization for black men and women from across the United States. Linda saw a need for encouraging women of all races and ethnicities to come together and find common ground which resulted in a bi-annual conference entitled, “Can We Talk?™: Black Women, White Women and Women of Color.”

Linda was magnetic, once you met her you were instantly drawn to her. She made every contact, be it with a student, a colleague, or a casual acquaintance, one you didn’t forget. People she met called her Linda Bates Parker as if that was her first name. She truly walked “with Kings,” having had the privilege of knowing three Prime Ministers in two countries. She was comfortable in the board room and in the classroom. When her travels took her to foreign countries, she was comfortable with people whose languages she did not speak, because her big smile and her twinkling eyes let them know she was one with them and the universe.

Linda’s efforts to make the world a better place garnered her awards and recognitions. Her many awards included The Cincinnati Enquirer Woman of the Year award, the YWCA Women of Achievement award. She had many “firsts” – but took greatest pride in being the first black woman hired at Proctor & Gamble to do market research, she was hired at Shillito’s (a Federated department store) to train the first black women sales associates.

Linda Bates Parker, a woman for all seasons, who until her final hour worked to put others at ease and bring comfort to their lives.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Funeral Arrangements for Linda Bates-Parker

From the office of Dr. Mitchell Livingston:
The arrangements for Linda Bates Parker are as follows:

Saturday, December 19, 2009
St. Joseph Catholic Church
745 Ezzard Charles Drive
Cincinnati, Ohio 45203

Visitation: 10-12 noon
Service 12 noon – 1 p.m.
Interment at Spring Grove Cemetery

Cards and other expressions of condolence should be sent c/o Robbin Parker Shabazz, 3615 Section Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45237. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to the Linda Bates Parker Scholarship Fund. (A testimonial luncheon will be held on April 10 to raise money for the scholarship fund). If you wish to make a contribution, please contact Bleuzette Marshall by email ( or by phone (556-6262).

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Passing of a Legend

It's with a heavy heart that I pass on the news of Ms. Linda Bates-Parker's death. She passed away yesterday after her long battle with cancer.
Ms. Bates-Parker - more commonly called Ma Parker among RAPPers - IS the foundation upon which our program stands. She was the staff person who led the group of students in the creation and growth of RAPP. Without her, there would be no RAPP, and UC would be a much worse place.
Word of her passing is just getting out to the community and details on arrangements are yet to be announced. I will certainly pass along information as I get it.
I spoke with Ms. Bates-Parker by phone mostly. She offered herself as a support for me in my new role. I had been so nervous to meet her because she, to me, IS RAPP - she founded it, she's got the knowledge and experience, and most important she's wise. I felt like a toddler stepping into a giant's shoes - but she immediately made me feel comfort and let me know when I'd earned her trust.
I wanted to share my most recent memory of Ms. Bates-Parker to show how impactful she has been on me, and on RAPP in its current form. I was re-writing some documents and mentioned to her that I'd like to start bringing her name in more - to name an award after her and put her as our founder. She cut me off and said "no, it should be about the students - they're the ones who made it happen." Her humility and desire to put the spotlight on others touched me. It reminded me - and I share this with others in leadership roles in RAPP - that our program isn't about the leaders, it's about the members. RAPPers make RAPP what it is, make RAPP work - not the facilitators.
This picture is from Ma Parker at the very first RAPP retreat in 1986. She has remained connected and directed our program since then in so many ways. And, we are just a small part of the amazing legacy Ms. Bates-Parker has left in the world. She has touched more lives than anyone I know, she has helped more people achieve greatness than anyone I've ever heard of. Thank you for all that you've done for so, so many, Ma Parker!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

RAPP Potluck - Yummy Snacks, Fun Games

Many thanks to the folks who came out to last night's RAPP Potluck. We took time to break from the stress of exams and - for a lucky few - celebrate the completion of the quarter.

The snacks were delicious (especially Amber's brownies!) and the company was good fun.

Eddie (XXIII) and Nicole (XXIV) enjoying Amber's delicious baked goods.

Kenzie (XXV) gives the night a thumbs up - and Jojo (XXIV) has his eyes closed in the photo as always! :)

Mia (XXII) brought along her visiting friend to meet us fun RAPP folk! Amber (XXV) relaxes in the background.

Brice (XXV) and his friend James look on as Jojo keeps the eyes-closed tradition going!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

On the Road Again... Next Stop, Cincinnati State!

I'm off to another college's campus today to meet some students and have interesting conversations.
I'm visiting with Prof. Gloria Rowe's classes at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College. I'll be dropping in on her 1 o'clock Issues in Human Diversity and talk about RAPP and what we do. With her 2:30 class I'll do the same and also do an activity with them.
Cincinnati State is just down the road and is a great educational resource for people all over Cincinnati. I've had several friends over the years involved in teaching the Issues in Human Diversity class. I'm excited to visit it because it models, to me, how issues of social justice can be approached with an academic (not just personal) benefit.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Get to Know RAPP XXV

Now that we have the group in place in terms of those who committed to RAPP XXV, I'm finally getting together some basic info about this year's batch of RAPPers. In particular, I'm looking at academic diversity. I find it pretty interesting, though I definitely understand others may not. :) Still, here it is:
RAPP XXV has 68 members who've committed to the program. These members represent ten colleges in our University. You can see the break-down by college below.
(A&S=College of Arts & Sciences; CoB=College of Business; CECH=College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Resources; DAAP=College of Design, Art, Architecture, and Planning; CAHS=College of Allied Health Sciences; CCM=College Conservatory of Music; CoN=College of Nursing; CAS=College of Applied Sciences; Clermont= Clermont College; ENGR=College of Engineering)

Though much of our more visible promotion happens at events targetting incoming first-year students, our group represents a range of academic years. Not shown in this graph is our increase in non-traditional students; it simply shows where people are academically.
(Not included are 1 pre-Junior, 1 transfer student, and 1 who didn't give their year in school).
Our members represent 44 different majors. The most common are Psychology (6), Communications (4), Criminal Justice (4), Finance (4), and Journalism (4). Five members declared they're pre-med.
This year's group's academic diversity unsurprisingly surpasses last year's - we've got 68 members compared to ~48. Last year's group was considered quite academically diverse, though: they represented 29 majors in 8 colleges (plus CAT) and had a similar spread of academic years.
By looking at this data starting last year we were able to debunk the myth we knew was a myth: "RAPP is only for liberal arts folk." As this info shows, RAPP is popular across a wide variety of academic and career interests. As we learn more about who has been in RAPP over the last almost-25 years, I think we'll find this has held true from the beginning.

Friday, December 4, 2009

RAPP Potluck

If there's one thing RAPPers know how to do, it's eat! And lots of other things that can happen during eating: have thought-provoking conversations, make friends, play games.

Join us for some of all of this! We'll be having a pot luck this Wednesday, December 9th from 4-7PM in the 6th Floor Open Space in Steger Student Life Center (just down the hall from the RAPP Office).

If you can come for ten minute or for two hours, I hope you stop by! If you can bring something to share, that's great. If you can't, that's great too - still come!

All RAPPers current and previous as well as our many "friends of RAPP" are encouraged to come. Take some time out in the midst of exam week to relax, share some food, and hang out with some RAPPers.

(pic - RAPP XXIV having dinner at spring retreat)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Few Thoughts on This Year So Far

At the end of the quarter, I spend a lot of time looking at feedback from our members and the few numbers I have about our group. This year I found something exciting in our retention rates that I want to reflect on openly.

Retention rates in RAPP are something I have limited data on. We know some limited numbers on RAPP XVIII through XXII and more thorough information on RAPP XXIII through now.

There are three numbers we keep track of nowadays:
  • Acceptance - How many people we have on our roster at the first meeting.
  • Commitment - How many people continue after the second meeting (meaning, they could come to the first two meetings to try us out, but we consider them committed if they attend retreats/meetings after that).
  • Completion - How many people participate all the way through to the end of the schoolyear.

We calculate retention by dividing the commitment number by the completion number.

Given that RAPP is a time-intensive, energy-intensive co-curricular, my goal is a retention rate of 80% - which can be a challenge to reach. The years that we do have data for our retention rate has ranged from ~50% to 80%.

Part of why we calculate from commitment rather than acceptance is that it can take folks those first two meetings to figure out if they can make the commitment of time and energy in a co-curricular way. There's a natural drop in numbers after the first meeting or two every year. From there people continue to withdraw their commitment as academic and personal demands may pull them away.

Here's why I tell you all of this: RAPP XXV is currently at 100% retention. This is amazing, and in some ways absurd! It's a pleasant surprise, to say the least. We accepted 71 people into RAPP XXV and 68 committed. From there, so far we've kept all 68 - not something we have a precedent for.

I don't really know why this is as it is at this point. I'm going to throw out a few ideas I'm starting with:

  • We have an amazing group of committed individuals! It's shown true to me so far. During their interviews, we explored issues of commitment and group development and why they wanted to be in RAPP. To a tee, folks were able to give well thought answers, demonstrating an understanding of what they were getting into and what it took to be successful.
  • We have an amazing team of Peer Leaders and facilitators! DeVorah, Emma, Krystal, Nancy, and Tad have been doing amazing work supporting RAPP XXV members - they challenge them to think in new ways, they support them through the difficult times, and they bring a lot of fun and friendliness. Sarvani and Tar have been blowing me away with their insight, facilitation skills, and planning of interactive sessions.
  • We have an amazing group of committed individuals! People have been doing their best to demonstrate commitment through attendance and engagement. Communication has been key, with folks communicating clearly why they're there and why they're not when they're not.
  • We're a bit exclusive! We accepted 71 people - which in the end left several people still on a waiting list to get in. For me, this seems like it's a bit of incentive to make sure that I demonstrate my commitment - I know that my spot was wanted by someone who didn't get the opportunity to participate.

I've got more information to wade through because our evaluations from members came in this week. I'll hopefully have more insight into why our group is rockin' awesome soon!

(pic - RAPP XXV Wednesday folk at fall retreat)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Upcoming Event: Kwanzaa Celebration

Thursday, December 3rd, we have a celebration of Kwanzaa on campus hosted by UCASA, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., Lambda, and Collegiate 100.  The celebration starts at 7PM and is in the Max Kade German Cultural Center in Old Chemistry.

Whether you've celebrated Kwanzaa before or you've know nothing other that you've heard the name, come out if you can!  It's a great opportunity to connect with our community and learn about the holiday.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

World AIDS Day & Stupak Day of Action

RAPP XXIII member and XXV Peer Leader Emma sent info our way about two upcoming campus events (message copied below). Click this link for more info on the World AIDs Day events.

From Emma:

Today is World AIDs Day so I encourage you to take note of the red ribbons foun on the commons and around campus today and stop by our table in the TUC Atrium from 9-4 today to say hello and get some information on HIV/AIDs.

Also tomorrow is the Stupak Day of Action. Stop by the table in TUC outside the mart near the bookstore from 11-3 to sign the petition and call your senator to let them know that you want them to stand up for women and make sure that all women have access to safe abortions. If you can't stop by the table, call the switchboard number on your own and get transfered to your senator. The number is (202) 224-3121.