Day of Absence / Day of Presence
April 30 and May 2, 2014
Every year, new and different programming is developed by the Day of Absence and Day of Presence Planning Committee (which you can be a part of). The committee is comprised of interested students, staff, and faculty. This coming academic school year, the Day of Absence will take place on Wednesday, April 30th and the Day of Presence will be on Friday, May 2nd, 2014. Our hope is to host a variety of activities throughout the year created to hone our discussion and analytical skills in regards to the complex and vital issues of Race, Inclusion, Diversity, Privilege, Allyship and their intersections.
Origins and Themes
History of Day of Absence and Day of Presence
The idea for the Day of Absence came from a play of the same name by African American playwright, Douglas Turner Ward. In the play, a scathing satire, the African American members of a community mysteriously disappear for 24 hours. Those who are left are forced to reflect on the meaning and consequences of life without an integral part of their community. For the curious, copies of his play are available for loan from the office of First Peoples Advising Services.
The first Day of Absence, celebrated originally in the mid 70's, was a unity dinner, primarily for Evergreen's African-American community members. From that dinner, the campus Day of Absence was born, an event that grew to become an off-campus educational and rejuvenating retreat where all of Evergreen's students, staff and faculty of color were invited to attend. In addition, while the community of color was off-campus, white allies began to offer a full day of programming on campus around identity development and anti-oppression work.
The concept has grown to include the Day of Presence programming which represents the reuniting of our entire community and an opportunity to share ideas with each other as allies around the issues of multiculturalism and community strength.
Why the need for separation?
One of the questions we are often asked is, "Why do you feel the need to be separate? Doesn't that defeat the purpose?" The departure which takes place on Day of Absence is easier to understand if seen from the perspective of coalition and community-building. For people of color, the opportunity we have in the larger society to explore ideas, problems and solutions to issues of diversity in our own community without having to explain, defend or interpret our perspectives, is rare, precious and absolutely essential. This retreat gives the campus community of color one day in the year when we can work together as a learning community, in a setting in which we are not the numerical minority. At the same time, it is also equally important for our white allies to have a space for themselves dedicated to discuss these same issues of inclusiveness, identity, ally-ship and community.
Questions? Comments? Concerns?
Learn More by Becoming Involved!
Help Evergreen continue this tradition of focusing on the essential nature of diversity and anti-oppression work.
For questions or more information please contact:
First Peoples Advising Services, 360-867-6467 or firstname.lastname@example.org