In conversation with Charm Little-Ray, BK Taylor and Lyosha Gorshkov – The Colgate Maroon-News
Campus principals and associates Lyosha Gorshkov, BK Taylor, and Charm Little-Ray hosted a panel on self-care and activism on January 25 at the ALANA Cultural Center. The event was part of Colgate’s celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Week, which seeks to highlight causes of social justice and unity by welcoming influential figures from within and beyond the campus community.
The panel took place at the ALANA Cultural Center, which serves as an inclusive and educational space on the Colgate campus. At ALANA, students have celebrated and honored the histories, struggles, and achievements of diverse cultures since the 1960s. Its set-up relates directly to the panel’s discussion theme; it was created in the late 1960s, when activists from the Association of Black College Students staged a series of sit-ins. Their group has since evolved into Colgate’s Black Student Union.
ALANA isn’t the only on-campus center founded through activist efforts. Haven, a resource center on sexual violence, was launched in the same vein. Tuesday’s panel featured Associate Director of Haven Survivor Support Services, Charm Little-Ray. Led by an executive staff and supportive ambassadors, Haven provides counseling services, links to other academic departments, and community resources. Its creation was inspired by a call from concerned students insisting on the need for such a space within the Colgate community. Little-Ray pointed out how, today, self-preservation is rooted in the process of training for emotionally intense work.
“We have a program where our ambassadors take a five-week course where they learn how to support a survivor, but also how to support themselves,” Little-Ray said. “You hear these stories and it can weigh on you. You have to learn to protect yourself. »
Incorporating these training practices for Haven Ambassadors ensures that members maintain their health when providing services to survivors of sexual and/or domestic violence. This practice, as discussed throughout the panel, is an act of radical self-care. Such acts allow a person concerned about their personal health to develop a stronger bond with their community, promoting reciprocal support. Strength in a conscious and unified collective was also discussed by BK Taylor, director of the Shaw Wellness Institute. At Shaw, dynamic considerations including, but not limited to, physical, social and intellectual health frame their holistic wellness philosophy. Community activities such as spectator workshops and peer coaching are among the many services offered at the facility. In her responses, Taylor emphasized the usefulness of unity in self-care practices, although societal pressures may encourage a more individualized path.
“The internal orientation is a bit biased towards the West compared to the overall concept,” Taylor said. “Self-care doesn’t have to be specific to one person…it can also be about engaging with your community and reconnecting to your roots.”
Additionally, Taylor discussed the direct historical connection between self-care and activism. He traced the lingual lineage of the term “self-care” back to the 1950s, when it was an early medical suggestion for the treatment of PTSD. But, as Taylor explained, it was the civil rights movement that popularized the term, as collectives united to amplify the voices of the marginalized.
“Personal care really started gaining traction in the 1960s, during the civil rights movement,” Taylor said. “The term began to become a key part of this militant experience. Self-care for people can also mean engaging with your community.
Lyosha Gorshkov developed other examples of such personal and collective self-care exercises. Considering Gorshkov’s background as an immigrant to the United States from Russia, Gorshkov spoke of the sense of marginalization felt in both countries.
“As a queer immigrant, you’re always in a state of being neither here nor there,” Gorshkov said. “You’re not here already, because you’re exiled, and you’re not here, because there are certain groups that don’t accept [you].”
Gorhskov’s self-care practices therefore stem from this irrevocable feeling. Gorshkov began to seek new experiences – visiting gyms and hiking to maintain his mental and physical health. At Colgate, Gorshkov has fostered safe spaces and essential belonging events for students who identify with the LGBTQ+ community. Gorshkov encourages alliance to all, especially viewers who witness marginalization. When we deny transphobic, homophobic and sexist language, we intuitively shape ideals of acceptance.
“Being proactive means we change our attitude[s]said Gorshkov. “This [perpetrating] the person may not be transphobic, homophobic, sexist, by measure, but they use that language. Language creates ideology.
Campus lecturers and leaders Gorshkov, Taylor, and Little-Ray all support a similar future – a future where individuals can safeguard their well-being, contribute to that health for their communities, and thereby foster a more comfortable future for the marginalized.