The final open forum to decide the LGBTQA+ Affairs Project Director was held Thursday in the Memorial Union.
Dr. David Green Jr. spoke on issues of diversity and inclusion, while also creating a presentation around the forums prompt of “advocacy versus activism” and how they affect the university's mission.
Green graduated with a doctorate in American/African American Studies as well as LGTBQ Studies from the University of Michigan, where he resided as a lecturer on civil rights and black power. Green also taught sexuality and gender studies at Eastern Michigan University.
A self proclaimed poetry connoisseur, Green’s presentation relied heavily on various figures of literature and poetry to conduct his views on advocacy on activism.
Referring to himself and his work specifically as a queer black humanist, Green read from the works of James Baldwin to illustrate the struggle of speaking on controversial topics. In the poem “No name in the street” Baldwin describes his experiences with racial struggles as a sword that always poses a threat of self harm. Baldwin himself being a black queer humanist , Green finds inspiration and guidance within these poems.
“Advocacy and activism are inseparable and must be engaged with passion,” Green said. ”My passion stems from my own lived experiences and also frames my approach to higher education. When you walk in the shoes of a person or lived that live all that’s left is passion.”
Student frustration with change and progression are seen as an outcome from the detached mentality between advocacy and activism according to Green.
“Advocacy is about speaking about bringing issues forward, while activism is sometimes seen as negative with protests and riots,” Green said.”Change from a student's perspective is not seen because often advocacy and activism are not working in tandem.”
For Green, the joining of this disconnect is the key to creating real change among students and staff. He uses the queer poet Essex Hemphill and his piece “When My Brother Fell” to explain the importance of advocacy and activism coexisting.
In the poem Hemphill, who died of AIDS, confronts the war on AIDS and the Reagan administration in the 80’s as a ceremonial activist. He asks that after the rioting and activism what will be left? Pleading for clarification from silenced voices to speak up on significant issues.
“We must speak on important issues and advocate truthfully, when we are invited to speak on them we must not water down the issues,” Green said.
Green wishes to use his philosophies connected to queer black humanism and place them into the community of Iowa State.
“Engaging in both activism and advocacy will build alliances that create programs and spaces to achieve educational and human rights goals,” Green said.
When asked about the issue of universal healthcare for transgender students at Iowa State, and the lack of trained physicians to accommodate transgender needs, Green responded with a personal story of microaggressions within the medical world.
“When I was getting a physical the doctor asked if I had an operation recently because of my high voice. Even in that small micro-aggression I felt alienated, and responded with 'I am who I am,' Green said. ”Just because the trans community have unique medical needs, they are still people and we have to address those issues.”
Green referenced the philosophy and mission of Iowa State, stating that such a philosophy could not be created without including trans students and staff.
“I would remind the university about their vision and mission, we cannot have a philosophy and then marginalize a certain group because of how they identify,” Green said. "They are still students and still use our facilities.”