By Assia Angelini
Clear skies and warm rays of sun made the perfect atmosphere for the annual Women’s Celebratory Tea hosted by the Multicultural Student Council (MSC) in Eleanor Searle on Sunday, March 19th. All were invited to spend an afternoon in support and celebration of the achievements, leadership, courage, and strength of women. Those who attended entered a room adorned with flowers and ribbons, simplistic but effective decorations that reflected the relaxed yet dignified mood of the event. One look at how MSC transformed the ambiance of Eleanor Searle showed how much careful thought and effort went into this event.
As guests arrived at 2pm, they had time to mingle and seat themselves to the mellow tunes of smooth jazz before the program for the event began. Derrick Jean-Baptiste, Vice President of MSC, chief planner, and master of ceremonies for the Women’s Tea, started the program with a brief welcome to all who attended. A prayer by the Dr. Sarah Harding of the Religion Department followed the opening statement. Then those in attendance helped themselves to the dainty spread of finger foods and cold iced tea provided for the event.
As guests ate, Jean-Baptiste once again stepped behind the microphone to signal the start second half of the program. Members of MSC read informational excerpts chronicling women’s involvement in criminal justice punctuated by readings of poems both original and written by prominent female authors including Maya Angelou and Nikki Giovanni. All this led up to the introduction of the Women’s Tea’s featured speaker, Dr. Lisa Carter of the Criminology Department.
Dr. Carter spoke on the subject of women’s history in labor force, a point she clarified after jokingly remarking on her assistant’s confusion around why she was giving a speech about women having babies.
Using statistics in to paint a clearer picture, Dr. Carter discussed the history of inequality not just across the gender line in the workforce, but also how differences in race affect treatment and rates of pay. She then went on to use discuss how these factors influenced and affected the lives of criminalized women.
Drawing from the impactful research she conducted for her dissertation, Dr. Carter touched on how women were not usually violent offenders and often driven to crime due to economical factors relating to money. She also mentioned how the difficulty of obtaining a sustainable job with a criminal record created a cycle that was difficult to break. Lisa concluded her speech with one of her favorite quotes from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg: “People ask me sometimes… When will there be enough women on the court? …When there are nine.”
After the applause following the speech died down, Tatiana Montilla, a Junior Music Performance Major, performed A Slumber Song of The Madonna. When describing the meaning behind the song she said, “It’s a mother singing to her new-born baby. The mother expresses her love for the newborn and says they are greater than the jewels of kings.”
As the program for the Women’s Tea drew to an end, Dr. Anne B. Kerr, President of Florida Southern College, closed the program. Dr. Kerr left those in the room with a final message to “gather your tribe.” She urged others to recruit those who would challenge and uplift others, and with these people create a lasting system of support would enrich the lives of everyone involved. She ended by counting everyone in attendance among her system of support.
The program concluded in the midafternoon. Guests exited Eleanor Searle, pausing to take a picture in the sunshine, grab one last morsel of food, and congratulate planners and participants on the event’s success.