Ndikhokhele Bawo. Lead me, oh Father. A traditional Xhosa song often sung during church in South Africa.
This gorgeous hymn kicked off the Stronger Together meeting and really set the tone for the event.
People from all walks of life gathered to partake in this beautiful moment. Students, faculty, blacks, whites, Christians, Muslims, men, women and any other group imaginable; The diversity in the room was astounding.
The president and vice president of the Sinclair Music Studio Association began with a speech on the importance of diversity.
“We are here together as humanity,” Dakota Nelson began. “There are all sorts of injustices that still happen because people choose to remain divided.”
They begged people to look at each other with new eyes and introduced the first activity of the day.
Everybody gathered into groups and each group had a facilitator. We learned about each other and what makes us unique and what makes us similar.
We started off by discussing our favorite music then switching to our ideal world. We all had dreams of living in a world that didn’t have such hatred and biases, such brutality towards those who are different and instead, we celebrated our individuality.
After about 15 minutes, we wrapped up our conversations and went on to the next activity.
There was a panel of students at the front of the stage who answered questions about their experiences in life. Everyone up there was different. There was a Muslim woman, an international student, a Latina woman, a biracial woman, a member of the LGBTQ+ community and a black man.
The facilitators went through and asked them various questions and the students would answer at their discretion.
The first question posed was “What part of your identity is most important?” The black man spoke up first. He described how the very first thing people see when they look at him is the fact that he’s black. Nevertheless, he loves his heritage and believes “You can’t ignore who you are, so take pride in it.”
He also spoke on how different people see him in different lights. If he’s in a predominately white community, people immediately see a black man. But if he’s in a predominately African American community, they just see him as him. They see his clothes, how he presents himself.
However, the young man also commented on how there is sometimes backlash from his community. If he speaks eloquently, he’s noticed that white folk tend to think “Oh he’s one of the good ones.” Conversely, he’s also faced criticism from other African Americans that say he’s “not black enough.”
The others chimed in as well. The international student commented on how everyone immediately notices that he’s Asian, the Muslim woman spoke of how everyone notices her Hijab.
All of these people from different backgrounds had such similar experiences in the world and they’ve all been able to bond over it.
The panel continued sharing their unique but shared experiences for a time, discussing how they’ve adjusted to life here in Dayton, what the biggest culture shock to them was and the importance of their identities.
The event finally ended with Sinclair’s choir belting out a fantastic rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine” which was met with thunderous applause.
An incredibly powerful song and show of unity, Stronger Together brought people from all walks of life as one and we all shared a beautiful moment.