Katie Cerulle ’22
The Gold Table Talk Zoom Webinar, which was held on Friday, Feb. 26, was composed of four student panelists from different organizations on campus. The webinar was intended to enlighten members of the Trinity community about the experiences of women of color in organizations on campus, “specifically, the experiences of those within Greek organizations and multicultural organizations at Trinity and other PWI’s.” Each panelist was a woman of color, and the women spoke on the black experience within their organizations.
This event was hosted by Lamda Pi Upsilon or the Alpha Alpha Divas, in collaboration with The Ivy Society, The Stella Society, Imani, and The Caribbean Students Association. The Tripod spoke with panelist and former President of The Stella Society Jessica Jones ’21.
Jones elaborated on her experience speaking in front of a wide range of spectators while serving as a panelist. Members of multiple sororities on campus were audience members and served as supportive and attentive spectators. Jones relayed that she felt somewhat exposed and vulnerable serving as a panelist, since sharing her thoughts to spectators was a personal experience: “To be honest, I have never felt more vulnerable than I did sharing my experiences in that setting.” She continued, “I have loved being a part of Stella, but I have never ever taken the time to talk out loud about my experiences, specifically as a person of color, in our predominantly white organization.”
She also mentioned how much she had valued her time serving as the President of The Stella Society and as an active member, but speaking to a large crowd about her experiences was a completely new experience. “I talk about being in Stella all the time and what that looks like day-to-day, but having the conversation of race with 100 strangers was a completely different ballgame,” Jones remarked.
Further, imposter syndrome, individuals doubting their own success for fear of being known as a fraud, was prevalent for all of the panelists. “As was touched upon during the panel, imposter syndrome is quite prevalent,” she mentioned. For Jones, the best and worst part was being vulnerable and sharing her personal opinions. “Although working through that was a challenge, I wouldn’t say it was necessarily ‘bad.’” Moreover, in her opinion, “the worst part, which was not truly bad and actually was quite good for me, was having to actually allow myself to be open and share candid thoughts and ideas that I tend to prefer not to discuss.”
Finally, Jones spoke of her own personal growth throughout being involved with the panel, and highlights it as a notable part of her experience as a woman of color at Trinity. “I was shocked by how much I felt as though I was able to reflect and learn about myself through this experience,” she explained, “I think the biggest thing that I realized almost immediately after the panel was that it really is important to talk about my experiences and not try to suppress them.”
In addition to helping her realize things about herself, Jones also noted that by engaging with the Trinity Community about topics of race she also is improving the culture of Greek life as a whole. She concluded by saying that “pushing myself to engage in conversations such as this panel really do contribute to the effort to make a change within the Trinity community, especially within Greek life.”
The Tripod also spoke to Dana Parker ’22 about her experience attending the event. She mentioned the importance of her role as a listener and educating herself on important issues of race and prejudice. “I think what I have learned most since the Black Lives Matter movement really gained momentum this summer is just to listen… I had never thought about the burden that falls on the shoulders of my peers who are POC and feel as though they need to educate white people of the prejudice they face everyday.” Parker highlighted the significance of self-education on issues of race: “There’s so much information out there and it is my responsibility to look for it and teach myself, but also to support my friends when they are willing to share their stories like the panelists for the Gold Table Talk did.”
Parker also mentioned her role in Greek life and how her interactions have helped her to understand the part that, in her case, The Stella Society plays in the lives of people of color on campus. She noted the importance of having these conversations.