QWOCC: a Year in Review

Written by: Niroshini Mather, Sydney Ko, Shayla Joshi 

March 8th 2021, not only marks International Women’s Day but our first ever blog anniversary. QWOCC’s blog has been up and running officially for one whole year. To celebrate this milestone, our blog team collaborated to create this year in review- a timeline from when we launched our blog to where we are now. 

Before we get into the year in review, our founding presidents Yasmeen Choudhri and Danielle Pinder, recount how this club was initially conceived. 

On a particularly cold evening in November of 2019, we sat in BioSci chipping away at an assignment. Gradually our conversation deviated from DNA repair mechanisms and we began chatting about our time at Queen’s. Although we didn’t know each other too well, we clicked over our shared experiences as WOC in a predominantly white university. We both come from different ethnic origins and religions, but we noticed a lot of similarities in our anecdotes. We ranted about fetishization and dating horror stories, underrepresentation in media, and the confusion surrounding our identities as individuals of mixed race. Through this conversation, we noted that there was no club on campus for WOC and allies, that was not affiliated with a particular religious or ethnic group. Thus, QWOCC was created with the intention to create a safe space on campus for self-identifying women of colour and allies to share their thoughts, experiences, and feelings.

Over the past year, we are so proud that we’ve been able to connect with so many WOC within the Queen’s community, and grow our executive team. From the blog to our speaker series events, to our General Members committee meetings, our team has accomplished so much in merely a year. Having the opportunity to reflect on our own experiences as WOC, and to learn from the other WOC within the Queen’s community, has been a wonderful experience thus far. We have so many more exciting things planned for the year to come and can’t wait to continue working with our team toward making them happen.

MONTHLY BREAKDOWN: A Year in Review 

March 2020 

Our first ever event was on March 3, 2020. We hosted a sticker sale in the ARC to spread the word about our club on campus. Though we did launch our social media at the end of February, this month marked not only our first event but our official blog launch! The founding 6 team members worked relentlessly behind the scenes to make this launch possible.The first article on the blog was an introductory post giving a little insight as to who our exec members were. (https://qwocc.design.blog/2020/03/07/welcome-to-my-blog/) The second article was a quick rundown of “What is a Woman of Colour?” (https://qwocc.design.blog/2020/03/07/example-post/). From here on out, QWOCC officially had its own web domain- when you google “QWOCC” we are the first hit! 

April – May 2020 

Our 2020-2021 executive team was selected. With 15 members, our executive team was ready to hit the ground running for the upcoming school year. These months were used to plan upcoming events and content. 

June 2020 – August 2020

Over the summer, QWOCC dedicated the months in advocating for change. Given the social situation and mass attention garnered towards the Black lives Matter movement over the summer, QWOCC raised awareness by publishing multiple articles from our blog coordinator (Shayla Joshi) and blog editors (Niroshini Mather and Sydney Ko). Joshi’s article on “How to spark change: the distinction between equity and equality” (https://qwocc.design.blog/2020/08/08/how-to-spark-change-the-distinction-between-equity-and-equality/) and Mather’s article on “Stolen by Smith,” (https://qwocc.design.blog/2020/08/22/stolen-by-smith-an-article/) an Instagram account that posts anonymous confessions of those who experienced discrimination while studying at Queen’s, emphasized the importance of advocacy and amplifying marginalized voices on campus. Aside from raising awareness of current issues and personal struggle, QWOCC contributed to furthering social change within the Queen’s community.  From making donations to Queen’s Black Academic Society to creating a resource list dedicated to those who would like to learn more (https://qwocc.design.blog/2020/06/05/resources-ways-you-can-help/), QWOCC remained active throughout the summer. 

September 2020: Experiences as a WOC 

September revolved around the theme of “Experiences as a WOC ”. The month kicked off with a hard hitting article written by Emily Reynolds, who detailed her account when she was on exchange in Lyon, France (https://qwocc.design.blog/2020/09/26/what-they-dont-tell-you-about-exchange/). Following this was an article about Larissa Zhong’s battle with Eurocentric beauty standards (https://qwocc.design.blog/2020/09/29/decolonizing-beauty-at-queens/). Finally, the month closed with a beautiful piece titled “Origin” by Urooj Salar (https://qwocc.design.blog/2020/10/04/origin-story). This month’s submissions truly highlighted the fact that QWOCC is a community built for WOC to have a safe space to express not only who they are, but what they have been through. 

October 2020: WOC in Media and Beauty Standards

October was an exciting month for QWOCC as, in collaboration with Queen’s Vogue Charity Fashion Show, we held a photoshoot to celebrate and redefine beauty as women of colour (https://qwocc.design.blog/2020/11/07/qwocc-x-vcfs-beauty-standards-for-woc/). Each of our incredible models shared their insights on combating beauty standards and discovering self-love and acceptance. During this month’s blog posts, Sydney and Niroshini took a deep dive into exploring the stereotypes surrounding aesthetic surgery (https://qwocc.design.blog/2020/11/01/lets-normalize-aesthetic-surgeries/) and illustrated all the ways in which the beauty industry is failing at prioritizing diversity (https://qwocc.design.blog/2020/10/08/why-diversity-just-isnt-enough-for-the-beauty-industry/). 

November 2020: WOC in Academic: Educators of WOC 

With exam season fastly approaching, we all needed to be inspired; hence the month of November was dedicated to acknowledge WOC in academia and their many achievements. In Niroshini’s article, “Missing: Women of Color Educators,” she details the underrepresentation of WOC in academia and the growing importance to ensure a diverse teaching staff representative of the student body’s diversity (https://qwocc.design.blog/2020/12/01/missing-women-of-colour-educators/). 

January 2021: What does Being a WOC Mean to You? 

The new year is often gleaming with a fresh start- bringing with it moments of reflection. Considering the past year, there was much to reflect on. In addition to the pandemic that fundamentally altered life, 2020 was a time of social change. We witnessed the magnification of the Black Lives Matter movement, which empowered the BIPOC community internationally. In response to this, we finally saw institutions responding to calls for accountability and change. Thus, we thought the best way to reset the blog was by answering the poignant question, “What does Being a Woman of Colour Mean to you?”. The two emotional, and reflective pieces share the author’s quest for identity, pivotal personal experiences and their own definitions for the term “WOC” (https://qwocc.design.blog/january-2021/).

February 2021: WOC in the Workplace 

February is often a stressful month for undergrads, spent searching for internships, research opportunities or potentially even preparing for the first post-graduate job interview. Thus, we thought it fitting for this month’s theme to be “WOC in the Workplace”. During the month of February, we held a collaborative speaker series, with Queen’s Scientista, called “Discovering Your Professional Persona”. This panel featured Dr. Heidi Ploeg, Trinda Penniston and Dr. Qingling Duan who shared their stories of obstacles and triumphs that led to their establishment as leading professionals within their respective fields. This month our blog post took a deep dive into the trouble with aspiration as a WOC and recognized groundbreaking WOC leaders in male-centric fields (https://qwocc.design.blog/2021/02/24/from-then-to-now-opinion-piece-woc-in-the-workplace/). 

March 2021: Navigating Relationships as a WOC 

And that brings us full circle! One whole year! Thank you for being a part of our journey thus far and we hope you stay along to see everything else we have in store. We are truly grateful to each and every one of our general members, readers, contributors, and executive team- without all of you none of this would be possible. It is thanks to all of you that we have been able to cultivate this community both virtually and on campus. 

Stay tuned for some upcoming articles this month discussing WOC and relationships!

All articles can be accessed through the following link: https://qwocc.design.blog/blog-posts/ 

Feel free to submit to our blog through the portal below!

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScraAyQ6rfRbVMSKQ-DSYWX6VvdMB16HkcS6TF_VY9O1zkGKQ/viewform?usp=sf_link

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