Oct. 16, 2019
Nikebia Brown-Joseph is a senior in the School of Social Work, minoring in women and gender studies and pursuing a certificate in nonprofit leadership. This year, she is part of the It’s On Us Week of Action planning committee representing the Association of Black Social Work Students where she currently serves as president.
I met Leah Short, a prevention specialist with the Prevention, Outreach and Education office, at a Master in Social Work program orientation in August and she invited me to join the planning committee for It's On Us Week of Action. Learning about gender justice and trying to change our culture in regards to gender equality and sexual violence is something I’m very passionate about. So, after our discussion, I felt it was the perfect opportunity to get involved in creating change at MSU. This was my first year on the planning committee, and I definitely want to be involved again in the future.
I’m very excited about the Art Through Activism workshops because those are two things very close to my heart. I’m really looking forward to working with Sherina Rodriguez-Sharpe again. I took creative writing classes with her through InsideOut Detroit in high school and remember loving her energy, ideas and the way she led the class.
We all put a lot of effort into planning events that would reach the MSU community, especially the students since they’re the heart of MSU. Obviously, I (like everyone else) was very excited to see Laverne Cox speak. Preparing for her visit was interesting because I’d never been involved in planning such a large event at MSU or an event starring such a famous guest. It was a bit of a challenge figuring out the room situation because we wanted her to be able to travel from room to room without running into crowds.
The whole night held a constant air of excitement. I was posted by the entrance door, and when Laverne walked by those of us there shared a starstruck moment. I was enthralled by her speech. She spoke about how we deal with guilt and shame and I could tell it was a topic that struck deeply for a lot of people in the audience.
It was also fascinating because she shared a lot of her background story, which I hadn’t heard much about. The part of her speech that resonated with me the most though was when she told us her worth wasn’t tied to her work. It's not tied to her lead roles or her magazine covers. Her worth is something she holds simply because she exists. It was a very powerful moment.
If I had the opportunity to help plan It’s On Us next semester, I would do it. I think it has been and will continue to be a good opportunity for me to learn about organizing and brainstorming ways to create awareness and culture change. The people I’ve worked with on the planning committee are all really awesome and interested in the same goal, so I feel lucky to have met them.