On Jan. 29, as part of Diversity Day, Westminster students and faculty participated in a full day of activities related to identity and belonging.
The day began with an autobiographical play about one man’s exploration of his identity titled “Incognito,” which was performed by actor and director Michael Fosberg. The play chronicles Michael’s search at age 34 for his biological father after his biological Armenian-American mother and adoptive Swedish stepfather announce their divorce. Having been raised in a White working-class family in a Chicago suburb, Michael’s discovery that his biological father is Black leads to a personal story about his reunion with his father and his father’s family and his confrontation with his mother about the circumstances of his birth.
“I was not raised Black, so does that make me any less of a Black man?” he asks during the play. “Do I need a box to fit in? Am I more than a label, a race? I am a kid with two dads and three heritages.” After the play concluded, he questioned the audience about their feelings during various parts of the performance, and he responded to their questions.
Fosberg regularly presents “Incognito” for schools, colleges, corporations, military bases, government agencies and nonprofits. He published a memoir in 2011 titled “Incognito: An American Odyssey of Race and Self-Discovery.”
Following the play, students and faculty participated in breakout groups where they discussed how first impressions are not always true and explored personal identifiers and different aspects of self-identity. Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) Facilitators, Fifth and Sixth Form leaders who applied and were selected by the Faculty Diversity Committee, guided the Third and Fourth Form groups. Pairs of faculty members led the Fifth Form groups, and Michael Fosberg met with the Sixth Form.
During an afternoon session, students either participated in a race- and/or ethnic-based affinity group discussion or viewed two videos: one related to unconscious bias, the other about how to stand up for your moral integrity. Students then attended advisory group meetings to discuss the day’s activities and issues related to identity.
Diversity Day concluded with two performances. First was UConn Taiko, which is traditional Japanese drumming that started around the sixth century to summon spirits for fortune, harmony and strength. Second was UC ThundeRaas, a nationally competitive team that performed a combination of raas and garba, a dance that originates from Gujarat in West India. Director of Multicultural Affairs Lisa McGrath, who organized the day with the OMA Facilitators, thanked students and faculty for their participation and encouraged them to "push yourself to continue the conversations you have started today."