Making Gumbo

Archive for March, 2013

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Realizing We Are A Neo-Diverse Wolfpack

A lot of students, some 200, showed up for the “Howl of the Wolf” event.

That event was a coffee house style evening put on by “Wake Up! It’s Serious: A Campaign For Change.”  And that November night, along with the students there were some staff and faculty that I recognized.  But even so, I did not know the reasons that very people came out.

Later I learned that at least one student who came was there to get credit for a course.  Dr. Craig Brookins, my best friend, requires that his students attend a number of events that are relevant to neo-diversity. To get credit for attendance though, his students must write up their experience of the event.  One of Dr. Brookins’ students attended the “Howl of the Wolf” event and wrote it up in this way:

    “I attended Dr. Nacoste’s event which featured student skits and performances and his discussion about the content of his newest book Howl of the Wolf. The skits featured scenarios in which students interacted with someone of a different culture or sexual orientation, but did not handle the situation correctly. We then had an open discussion about the proper way to handle these types of situations and why we think they occur. We also watched a spoken word performs in which the poet described his mother’s life as a maid. Finally, Dr. Nacoste tied in the importance of all of these things amongst students on the campus.

     In the first skit, two girls were discussing their holiday breaks and one student was of Middle Eastern descent. The friend made an ignorant comment in relation to the Middle Eastern student’s culture. The second scenario involved two guys who were becoming good friends but one was homosexual and the other was heterosexual. The heterosexual friend was often too aware of his friend’s sexuality and made conversations awkward. Both these scenarios relate to the importance of socialization. As Americans who live in a diverse nation, it is important that children are socialized to deal with people of different backgrounds in a way that won’t offend them and it is also important for the child on the other end of the incident to know how to deal with an awkward situation and not allow negative incidents to alter how they identify themselves.

     The spoken word piece by Chicas had the largest impact on me.


    The poet, Chicas, spoke of how his parents were immigrants into the U.S. from South America and he wrote specifically about his mother’s life on the job. He spoke of how his mother’s hands were used to make beautiful music back in her country, but in the United States, they were just seen as instruments to clean someone’s tub. These are all events he recalled as a young boy and they played a part in shaping his identity. Instead of these experiences making him view himself and his culture in a negative life, he used it as fuel to make a better life for himself and his family. He was proud of where he came from and refused to be treated like a second class citizen like his mother was. He aimed to bring pride back to his family.

     The book Howl of the Wolf is a compilation of stories written in Dr. Nacoste’s class in which students described their experiences with people from different backgrounds. Most of these experiences showed how ignorant people were. Dr. Nacoste said that we live in a Neo-diverse age in which it is important for people from all walks of life to know how to interact with one another. This is especially important on such a diverse campus where despite our differences, we all howl the same. We are the Neo-diverse Wolfpack.”

posted by Rupert  |   6:21 PM  |   0 comments
Friday, March 08, 2013

Waking Up To The Howl Of The Wolf

        Wake Up! It’s Serious presents Dr. Rupert Nacoste talking about and giving away his new book, “Howl of the Wolf” about NC State students describing their new awareness and understanding of neo-diversity. Come join us on Thursday, November 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Caldwell Lounge! This will be an Open-Mic event. Coffee and refreshments will be provided by Global Village.

That is how the November 8, 2012 event was announced to the whole NCSU campus on various web bulletin boards.  Also posted all over campus was this flyer:

You see, NCSU students were going wild for my new book, “Howl of the Wolf.”

After the Psychology Club meeting and book give away, word started to spread.  Students began coming by my office to ask about this book they were hearing.  Some of these students were complete strangers to me.  One male student said, “I missed the Psychology Club meeting because I had to work.  I was wondering, though, if you’d give me a copy now.”  I did.

I knew this was not an efficient way to do this.  But that was ok in the short term because the social change student group I advise was doing the work to put on a major event to introduce my book to the campus.

“Wake Up! It’s Serious: A Campaign For Change” is a student advocacy group that grew out of my “Interpersonal Relationships and Race” class. Fall-2010, we had an incident of hateful, racial graffiti in our so-called Free Expression Tunnel.  That time students were outraged enough to organize a protest rally.  At the same time, I led a discussion in my class, and asked the students if they wanted to keep this energy going.  Students said yes, and over the following six months, “Wake Up! It’s Serious; A Campaign for Change” was born.  Two years later, it continues to grow.  As an advocacy group, these students say their mission

    “…is to design campaigns to help North Carolina State University students learn how to speak up in the presence of intolerance by refusing to be silent when another person uses derogatory group terms. We have committed ourselves to speaking up when a fellow student utters words of intolerance toward a group of our fellow student-citizens.  We have also committed ourselves to creating and participating in concrete educational activities toward positive change in the campus diversity climate with the aim of strengthening the social bonds of our community.”

The Wake Up! It’s Serious” group put on a magnificent event with a spoken word artist Chicas, skits about diversity interactions, piano interludes by Justin Outlaw, with me as the main speaker at the end.

That night another 200 students showed up to listen, be entertained, hear me, and get a free copy of “Howl of the Wolf.”

One person who showed up was a young white man who took my course the first or second time I taught it in 2006-2007.  I remembered him because I wrote a letter of recommendation for him to law school.  For a little while after he finished law school he had kept in touch, but that faded as it should have.  But here he was, dressed like a lawyer, at this event he heard about on Facebook.  He came to get a copy of the book.  He was stunned that I remembered him, but I did.

To my surprise, a few staff and faculty members from the college showed up.  Each spoke to me after the event, and each was very complimentary about the organization and content of the event and the turnout.  I assured the faculty that all the credit was due to the students in “Wake Up!  It’s Serious: A Campaign For Change.”

It was quite a night.  We gave away 162 books.

posted by Rupert  |   12:07 PM  |   2 comments