StoryBooth with Zoii Henry, Together RIT 2022, 2022-10-21

Dublin Core

Title

StoryBooth with Zoii Henry, Together RIT 2022, 2022-10-21

Subject

Oral History;Jamaica--Race relations;United States--Race relations;Race relations;Minorities--Education (Higher);College students

Description

Zoii Henry, a fourth-year International student from Jamaica, discusses their experiences with race at RIT.

Date

2022-10-21

Format

video

Identifier

2022:051

Oral History Item Type Metadata

Interviewer

Elizabeth Call

Interviewee

Zoii Henry

OHMS Object Text

5.4 StoryBooth with Zoii Henry, Together RIT 2022, 2022-10-21 2022:051 00:06:05 RITArc.0752 RIT Archives StoryBooth collection RIT Archives ritarchives Oral History ; Jamaica--Race relations ; United States--Race relations ; Race relations ; Minorities--Education (Higher) ; College students RIT Archives StoryBooth ; Together RIT (2022): A Day of Understanding, Solidarity and Racial Reconciliation Zoii Henry Elizabeth Call Landyn Hatch .mp4 ac_ritarc0752_zhenry_20221021_0001.mp4 0.5:|61(12) Undefined 0 https://youtu.be/FIZI8tE3xAU YouTube video English 9 As a person of color attending a predominantly white institution, what has your experience been like as a student or employee at RIT? ZOII HENRY: I am a fourth-year international student from Jamaica. Um, I have...never really spent a long duration of time in the US, except for college. And...Honestly, my experience here in the US, upstate New York at RIT, it was actually pretty jarring for me, knowing that I'm from a population where 90% of the people are black, or identify as black, it was overwhelming to be in a space of being considered a minority. Zoii Henry discusses their experiences with adjusting to life in the United States and on being perceived as a racial minority. Jamaica--Race relations ; United States--Race relations 0 144 "Am I allowed to think like a black woman in a predominantly white thinking space?" ZOII HENRY: I have to write regularly to know what it's like, as a black woman in STEM, and talk about the microaggressions I experienced--like my biggest question today is, "Am I allowed to think like a black woman in a predominantly white thinking space?" Am I allowed to make scholarship as a black woman? Is my scholarship...is my scholarship entertaining and endorsing my blackness? Or am I here to conform to a white standard and the heteronormative views? Zoii Henry discusses their academic pursuit, and poses questions regarding their experience with microaggressions as a black women in STEM. 0 246 Why was it important for you to participate in this event today? ZOII HENRY: I think my voice is necessary. I think hearing from the people who this affects the most is necessary. And I think not only just recording my voice or hearing what I have to say about race relations at RIT is important, but I feel like hearing it and amplifying it so that others who look and sound like me can hear it is important. Because it brings together a level of solidarity wherein which they can also be seen and heard. Zoii Henry discusses the importance of collective conversations regarding race relations at RIT. Race relations 0 Zoii Henry, a fourth-year International student from Jamaica, discusses their experiences with race at RIT. ZOII HENRY: Okay, um. So, so the first question I want to answer is, "As a person of color attending a predominantly white institution, what has your experience been like as a student or employee at RIT?" I am a fourth-year international student from Jamaica. Um, I have...never really spent a long duration of time in the US, except for college. And...Honestly, my experience here in the US, Upstate New York at RIT, it was actually pretty jarring for me, knowing that I'm from a population where 98% of the people are black, or identify as black, it was overwhelming to be in a space of being considered a minority. That was a bit of an adjustment period for me. And not only am I just a minority, meaning there are a lot less people who look and sound like me, but also that—recognizing that that comes with a lot of connotations. Um, I knew coming here that...I know America in general has different metrics for how they identify themselves and I'm accustomed to in my culture. And one of the things that I had to come to terms with was having people identify me as Black. It's not a big deal back home, nobody calls me Black. Nobody is explicitly asking me to fill out forms where I have to tick the box that says I am Black. So also—At home, I'm probably called like a brown girl, more than anything. I'm often mistaken for a tourist from my light skin. But still, coming here, being a minority, it was a very isolating experience. And I'm personally not the type of person who is very easily drawn to community. But I found it to be necessary, I found it to be my saving grace. And the one thing that could keep me together. ZOII HENRY: Um, I had an adjustment also with coming into a space where it appeared as though there were designated spaces for Black and Brown people. Like there were places where we were allowed to be ourselves. And those were the only spaces, and everywhere else belong to non...Brown or Black people. And that took some adjusting to, also. I have taken classes here. I—My first year, I—I deliberately did that in my academic pursuit. I said, you know, “There's something that I'm experiencing on a visceral level, and I don't know how to put language to it.” So in my first year, I took an antiracist pedagogy course in writing. And then in my second and third year, I took, um, Race Relations in America. Which were all great courses that kind of gave me language to describe my experiences. I have to write regularly to know what it's like, as a black woman in STEM, and talk about the microaggressions I experience—Like my biggest question today is, "Am I allowed to think like a Black woman in a predominantly white thinking space?" Am I allowed to make scholarship as a Black woman? Is my scholarship...is my scholarship entertaining and endorsing my blackness? Or am I here to conform to a white standard and the heteronormative views of this school? Which is how it portrays itself currently. ZOII HENRY: I feel like the next question is kind of my follow up: "Why is it important for us to have—participate in this event today?" I think my voice is necessary. I think hearing from the people who this affects the most is necessary. And I think not only just recording my voice or hearing what I have to say about race relations at RIT is important, but I feel like hearing it and amplifying it so that others who look and sound like me can hear it is important. Because it brings together a level of solidarity wherein which they can also be seen and heard. Like, my first year I wondered for a long period of time, "Am I the only person going through this? Am I the only person experiencing this? Is this just because it's happening to a Jamaican girl?" "No!" Was, you know, the correct answer and I didn't know that at the time until I started to speak up. So I think there needs to be more on this. I think there needs to be more open conversations, not just designated to the DDI [Division of Diversity and Inclusion] centers. But right across the board, needs to be a collective conversation that disseminates through classes about how we are able to think, design, engineer according to our ethnicity, according to our race relations and the impact of that. I would love it for RIT to become more aware of how events like these are more important than our engineering courses. Are more important than, you know learning E equals MC squared. Learning how to relate to one another how to accept and tolerate one another is important, crucial. And it really is what keeps us going and together. RIT Libraries makes materials from its collections available for educational and research purposes pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. It is your responsibility to obtain permission from the copyright holder to publish or reproduce images in print or electronic form. video This collection is open to researchers. For more information on the RIT Archives StoryBooth program, please email ritarchive
rit.edu. 0 sb_2022051_henryz_20221021.xml

Interview Keyword

RIT Archives StoryBooth;Together RIT (2022): A Day of Understanding, Solidarity and Racial Reconciliation

Files



Citation

“StoryBooth with Zoii Henry, Together RIT 2022, 2022-10-21,” Oral History, accessed July 15, 2024, https://oralhistory.rit.edu/items/show/16.