Unity Luncheon Celebrates Diversity, Addresses Identity Politics

Unity Luncheon Celebrates Diversity, Addresses Identity Politics
Alison M. De La Cruz, an artist, poet and cultural activist, delivered the keynote address, “Belching from Our Centers,” at the Unity Luncheon.
The fourth Diversity Leadership Award was presented to Diversity Matters of Pasadena. Diane Flinn and Sergio Marin of Diversity Matters accepted the award at the Unity Luncheon.

The 14th annual Unity Luncheon brought together more than 400 people from the campus and surrounding communities to celebrate and honor diversity. This year's luncheon, “Standing Together: Many Communities, One University,” was held Jan. 31 in the Bronco Student Center's Ursa Major Suite.

The Unity Luncheon was co-sponsored by the Asian Pacific Faculty, Staff & Student Association; the Black Faculty & Staff Association (BFSA); the Latino Faculty, Staff & Student Association;  the Pride Alliance (the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered faculty and staff association); and the Native American campus community. Each year, leadership for the luncheon rotates between these groups, and this year' event was under the direction of the Pride Alliance.

“At Cal Poly Pomona, we have a lot of communities and a lot of differences. But today we are able to put those differences aside and come together for a good cause  creating unity,” said Daryl Patton, co-chair of the Unity Luncheon Committee.

“I challenge all of you today to continue to build upon this and to step outside your boundaries and find out something different about somebody else's culture,” he said. “You'll be amazed at how wonderful that is.”

Alison M. De La Cruz, an artist, poet and cultural activist, delivered the keynote address. Currently living in the South Bay, De La Cruz works with emerging and established artists to create, transform, mobilize and heal communities through the arts.

De La Cruz's address, “Belching from Our Centers,” addressed the trappings of identity politics and community collaborations. She engaged luncheon attendees in an interactive performance/keynote address exploring how individual and collective work can help us “belch up” community blockage caused by fear, misunderstandings and cycles of hurt.

“I'm not here to bring you answers. I'm here to ask you questions,” said De La Cruz. “I'm here to ask you: How do you work together to build a community that allows us to be universal and, at the same time, allows us to be unique?”

University President Michael Ortiz congratulated the luncheon organizers for hosting an event that celebrates a tapestry of cultures, builds alliances and advocates rich heritage.

“One of the things that makes Cal Poly Pomona such a marvelous university is how the campus celebrates diversity,” he said. “Today, we are one university of common mind and spirit. I encourage you to continue your efforts in supporting the wonderful, open climate of Cal Poly Pomona.”

The Unity Luncheon Committee presented Ortiz with three books for his library: Addressing Homophobia and Heterosexism on College Campuses; Speaking for Our Lives: Historic Speeches and Rhetoric for Gay and Lesbian Rights, 1892-2000; and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy: The Fab 5's Guide to Looking Better, Cooking Better, Dressing Better, Behaving Better, and Living Better.

The fourth Diversity Leadership Award  which recognizes individuals and/or organizations that are advocates and leaders for diversity both on and off campus  was presented to Diversity Matters of Pasadena. Diversity Matters is an independent consulting firm that provides engaging, effective and culturally sensitive presentations and training on a wide-range of human relations issues.

Diversity Matters was formed to assist individuals and social institutions (such as schools, businesses and community-based organizations) in understanding and celebrating the increasingly diverse landscape of our society.

In addition, 10 faculty, staff and students were honored as Diversity Champions for their leadership and service to the university. Awardees included faculty members Laurie Shrage and Lester Young; staff members Audrey Espinoza, Penni Sweetenburg-Lee and Corina Benavides; and students Claudia Villegas, Stephanie Maroun, Rosemary Kyompa Keinembabzi, Jesse Cerda and Roderick Conwi.

The event also included an opportunity drawing that raised $1,100 for student scholarships.