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Kinyette Henderson ’10 told students and faculty gathered in chapel on Jan. 16 that to be color-blind as a society, is “the most dangerous place we can be.”
Speaking at St. George’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day chapel service,
Kinyette told students that instead they should take advantage of the opportunity to interact with a diverse community at St. George’s — and to not shy away from discussions about race.
A Red Key head, a member of the Community Service Council and captain of the track team when she was a student here, Kinyette went on to graduate from The George Washington University and in 2014 became a Teach for America corps member. She is now an English teacher at the KIPP charter school she attended before St. George’s in Newark, New Jersey.
Recently, when watching a few reality-TV shows, Kinyette said she was struck by the willingness of some celebrities to put the most personal details of their life on display.
“If I can watch Kourtney Kardashian pull her child out into the world and I can watch people date naked, it makes me think: Well why can’t we talk about race?”
Though the topic can make people uncomfortable, she said, the first thing that we can all work on is to acknowledge that we are all different. “See that person’s color. See that person’s difference,” she told students. “I’m not just talking about two colors. There are many colors in the world. Everybody is made up of many colors.
“See that person’s color. See who they are. Understand who they are. Do not tell them that color doesn’t matter — because it does.”
During a recent trip to the grocery store, Kinyette said a little girl walked up to her and told her her hair was pretty. When the girl’s mother later asked the little girl to whom she was talking, the little girl said, “Oh, that black girl over there.” The mother told her daughter, “Shhh. You shouldn’t say that,” but Kinyette said that was the wrong message to send. “That taught that girl that she was not allowed to say if someone looks different from her — and that’s a lesson she’s going to hold onto.”
Saying things like “We don’t see color,” and “Love has no color. We’re all human. Inside we’re all the same,” she asserted, isn’t the solution.
“If you remember only one thing I say today, please remember this: That is the most dangerous place that we can be. As a black woman, if someone tells me, I don’t see color, well, that is my biological and cultural make up. You are literally telling me that you don’t see me. I am not existing in front of you. If you don’t see my color, it is impossible that you see who I am.”
Civil rights leaders and activists like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X and Rosa Parks didn’t fight so that people didn’t see their color, she added. “They fought so that their color could be seen, appreciated, acknowledged and accepted.”
A number of students also spoke at this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. chapel service. Joy Mitchell ’17 welcomed community members to the chapel. Kasamba Amiri ’20, Tim Pozhitkov ’19 and Kari Robles ’19 read their own moving reflections on what Martin Luther King Jr. Day means to them. Ashley Fallas ’20, Roberto Marinez ’19 and C’ana Short ’20 introduced Kinyette; and Krysten Palmer ’18 and Anna Rittenhouse ’17 made closing remarks.
The Hilltoppers sang “Stand By Me,” and the Snapdragons performed “Down in the River to Pray” and “MLK.”
St. George’s has not just one but two alumni on Forbes magazine’s prestigious “30 Under 30” list. Both Will Mason ’08 and Caroline Guenther ’10 earned coveted spots on the 2017 list, which recognizes outstanding innovators in a number of industries.
Will, who co-founded UploadVR Inc., made the list in the media category. Forbes editors praised Will and his business partner for their cutting-edge work in helping to grow and support the virtual- and alternate-reality industries. "VR is no longer just for the tech savvy," the editors noted. "[UploadVR is] focused on media, coworking and education. Along with its online publication, UploadVR also runs an incubation space at its headquarters in San Francisco, where more than 40 companies operate and collaborate. Editors also noted, "Thousands of people take part in its online education program — partnered with Google, HTC and Udacity."
Will joins another Dragon on the Forbes list: Caroline Guenther '10, who made the list in the manufacturing and industry category.
The Forbes editors credited Caroline with helping to save her company millions when they named her to their “30 Under 30” list. Caroline, now a resident of San Francisco, is an integrated business planning manager at Cisco Systems Inc., where she manages Cisco product families that amount to a total of about $2 billion in value. “She's also worked to improve forecast accuracy, which has enabled the company to save millions in supply-chain costs,” the magazine noted.
The list, which Forbes claims is harder to get on than the admission acceptance list at Stanford or Harvard, highlights the accomplishments of those who even early in their career “have found a way to stand out above the rest, whether by designing new processes, developing new materials or inventing new technologies that help America make things and get stuff done,” writes Forbes editor Joann Muller.
Caroline has a particularly global perspective on manufacturing. In 2008, she served as a summer intern at the China Desk of the U.S. Department of State and she has spent time working in Pakistan with the Central Asia Institute, which helps establish schools in rural areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. During her tenure at St. George’s Caroline distinguished herself by becoming the first student to participate in a full-year study abroad program when she spent her fifth-form year with the SYA program in China (pictured above in 2004). A Read more of Forbes’ feature here.
Designed by the architectural firm McKim, Mead & White, Memorial School House was completed in 1923 and was meant to serve as a lasting monument honoring those alumni and faculty who served in WWI.
As of 1919 when the monument was conceived, 80 percent of the school’s alumni had served, according to School Archivist Valerie Simpson, and by the time the building was completed, 15 alumni and one faculty member had died.
“As reported in the school publications at the time, an academic building was chosen so as to form a ‘living legacy’ that would bond all future generations of students to those men who served and sacrificed for the noble cause of defending a free, educated society,” Simpson writes.
Over the last few years, Memorial School House’s slate roof was replaced and its gilded cupola renovated.
The building is slated for additional major restoration in the coming years.
Visit a photo gallery of the collection.
Dr. BJ Miller, St. George’s Class of 1989, was the featured speaker during a milestone weekend for the school in late February that also included the formal dedication of our impressive new Academic Center.
Miller, a palliative care specialist in San Francisco who sustained devastating injuries in a freak accident in college, captivated the audience Feb. 26 with his intellectual and creative ruminations on human suffering and end-of-life health care.
Watch Dr. Miller’s talk on our Vimeo channel.
“It was one of the best [talks] I have attended — both in and out of St. George's,” said Toreali Kurmanov ’16. “In addition, Dr. Miller proves that SG alumni are some of the most motivated and inspirational people out there.”
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