Ithaca College’s Center for the Study of Culture, Race and Ethnicity began celebrating its 10th anniversary with a performance by Latin percussionist Bobby Sanabria, titled “Cleave — The Key: A Rhythmic Journey from Africa to the New World,” on Monday, the first in a series of three events this semester.
The center was established in 1999 as an academic department featuring courses that teach how race and ethnicity help establish identity in an ever-changing multicultural world. It has worked ever since to bring speakers to campus to help fulfill that mission.
Monday’s performance wasn’t Sanabria’s first at the college. He came to the college in early 2000 as part of a CSCRE discussion series event titled “Reverberations: Music of the African Diaspora.”
Asma Barlas, director of the center, said CSCRE will feature old favorites of the discussion series in this semester’s lineup of events with a theme of “Centering the Margins.”
“To commemorate 10 years of the center’s existence, we wanted to do something as a retrospect, and we wanted to bring some people who had come earlier,” Barlas said. “It’s a way of seeing where they are now and a way for them to see where our campus is now.”
Sanabria encouraged the audience to clap and sing along as he told the history of how his music came to America, saying that it unites everyone, no matter what race they are.
“Even people who don’t know much about music and aren’t particularly interested in the politics of the music are very taken by his performance,” Barlas said.
Senior Anna Button, who attended the event, said Sanabria surpassed her expectations.
“I’m not even a music student, but the rhythm really brought me into what he was saying,” Button said.
Cultural theorist Bell Hooks, who spoke at the college in 2001, will return as part of the discussion series Oct. 5. In her discussion “Talking Race: Ending Racism,” she will focus on heterosexism and race.
The Nov. 8 event, “Who We Are and Why We Do What We Do,” will feature presentations from the series planning committee, composed of faculty from the center.
Barlas will give a presentation about her recent research. Sean Eversley Bradwell, Paula Ioanide and Gustavo Licon, all assistant professors at the center, will also present.
Bradwell said he hopes the presentations will help solidify the center’s presence on campus.
“We thought it would be a good idea for the center faculty to discuss their work and how they see their role in Ithaca College’s curriculum,” Bradwell said.
Plans have not been finalized for next semester’s discussion series, though Barlas said hip-hop musician DJ Spooky has been confirmed as one of the guests for the spring.
Ioanide said the series will offer those attending a chance to take part in discussions and discourse they might not otherwise get involved in.
“The benefit to the student population is, of course, not just critical thinking, but also challenging assumptions … that may change the way we understand and perceive the world in which we live,” she said.