The Swirl team is happy to welcome its newest chapter on board – SwirlStarkville (in Mississippi)! And at its helm, Sheena Gardner (pictured at left).
The establishment of SwirlStarkville comes at a time when an increasing number of individuals are identifying as multiracial in a state which traditionally sees race in black and white. Because the chapter is located in a college town, the organization will focus primarily on serving the student population. The activities of the group will focus on (1) building a visible multiracial community that will support multiracial students as they transition into adulthood, (2) providing academic and career advice to students, and (3) engaging with the campus and city communities in an effort to promote and celebrate diversity while continuing to discuss and educate the public about larger issues related to race and inequality.
The chapter is led by Sheena Gardner, a research associate for Mississippi State University and Ph.D candidate in the department of sociology at the university.
Sheena explains how she decided to start a chapter in Starkville, Mississippi:
I can say with complete honesty that I never set out to establish a chapter of Swirl here in Mississippi, but it’s like the saying goes “When opportunity knocks…” My interest in multiracial organizations sprouts from two main sources: my background (which I suppose wasn’t too hard to guess) and my professional research interests. I had done some reading on the multiracial movement and was interested in knowing if there were any multiracial organizations in the area that I could attend and get a feel for. When I began a search within the state I didn’t find anything so I decided to expand my search to the southeastern region of the US. It was at this point that I came across this organization.
I was drawn to this organization for a number of reasons. First, it’s a relatively young organization having started in 2000. I felt that this organization could be different, in terms of the activities it engaged in, from the older more established organizations with fairly established goals. Also, I noticed that a few chapters had opened in recent years and this indicated to me that this was a growing organization. Last, I read both the values and philosophy of work and felt that my ideals closely aligned with those of the organization. I contacted Jen about my interest and she asked if I would be willing to take on more of a leadership role. Because the closest chapters are four to five hours away I considered starting a chapter here in Mississippi. I think that the establishment of a chapter in Mississippi is particularly timely if we consider the racial history of the state along with recent Census data indicating the increasing number of individuals who are identifying as multiracial here in the state.
The fall semester has just started here at Mississippi State University and I’m looking forward to getting started!
Please join us in welcoming Sheena and SwirlStarkville to the Swirl community!
And if you know anyone in/near Starkville, please let them know about this great new chapter.