Men of Color Retreat creates opportunities to connect

Cornell College joined a group of 12 colleges for the Men of Color Regional Retreat during Black History Month in February.

Hemie Collier
Hemie Collier

As a co-sponsor of the event, Cornell’s Senior Diversity Officer and Director of Intercultural Life Hemie Collier helped organize the online sessions, invited students to participate, and presented. 

Collier said the online event was a place for men of color from many campuses to learn from one another and network.

“As young men, they are often told to keep their heads down, block out outside noise, and work hard to get to their goals,” Collier said. “While I understand the advice, it, unfortunately, leaves room for young men to forget to be active participants within their communities. They are so focused on their goals and dreams they miss out on opportunities where they can contribute to the improvement of their communities. I hope they were able to learn that they can do both. They can focus on their dreams and goals and still be engaged and participate within the community.”

Henry Morray
Henry Morray

Cornell College sophomore Henry Morray participated in the retreat. He explains that the event was all about empowering men of color with a mindset that will allow them to thrive and succeed.

“A big takeaway is that when we, the intelligent young multicultural adults that we are, put our heads and hands together to challenge our paradigms and to elevate ourselves into better versions of ourselves in this rapidly moving society, we can make great personal developments in our lives,” Morray said.

Morray said one aspect he enjoyed was playing an active role in determining some of the discussion topics. Hosts asked for feedback on what participants wanted to learn and talk about.

Topics during the one-day retreat included cultivating leadership, networking, mental health, self-acceptance, reflecting and evaluating yourself, accountability and responsibility, and ethics and integrity.

“I would participate in a similar event again because it provides a great outlet for discussion on topics that are usually not talked about or people may not be comfortable with in day-to-day life,” Morray said.

Morray said the retreat created within him an eagerness to learn from his peers. Collier says these types of connections and discussions are important because the students now know they have a system of support. 

“They have other people out there that are going through similar experiences they can reach out to, to connect with,” Collier said.

Although this year’s event was on Zoom, the plan is to make it an annual event that travels from campus to campus each year.