‘Reading, Writing and Racialization:’ Dr. Washington Cherry Lecture

On Saturday, September 17th Dr. Washington Cherry presented an extremely participatory lecture that left everyone wanting to discuss more and ask more questions. The topic that had every ear perked and every brain thinking was: Reading, Writing, and Racialization: The Social Construction of Blackness in a Prince George’s County Middle School.

What is blackness? How do we define blackness? If you speak Spanish can you also be black? Is “blackness” a particular color”? Many of us define blackness differently and perhaps it is an individual decision. But this lecture clearly made everyone think about what it means to be black and its importance. One attendee stated that there is only one race, and that is the human race but does society accept this “one race”?Dr arvenita_Washingon_cherry

What became clear to me is the need for diversity training even among a community like, Prince George’s County which is predominantly African American. Among those who identify themselves as black or African American are Spanish speaking people, French speaking people, and perhaps even those who do not look like what we consider black or African American. It is important to understand and be empathetic to other people and do not jump to conclusions because a person has an accent or because they do not fit in a particular societal “box” neatly. Prior to this lecture, I often thought there was no need to have diversity training among people who look the same but I quickly learned that just because we look alike does not mean we share the same race, language, understanding of culture, or identify with being black.


The Honorable Peggy Magee lecture at PGAAMCC

If you missed the Peggy Magee lecture you missed a real treat! She spoke about how strength and honor and being able to stand up to any challenge has propelled her to success. As a single mom, she had a successful career in the military, as a state’s attorney, as Clerk of the Circuit Court, a Director in county government, and now in private industry as an adjunct Professor and as the Director of Community Relations at Collington. Her story inspired me as well as others.

Ms. Magee attributed much of her ability and steadfastness to her service in the military. She learned how to stand to any challenge and do it with dignity and honor but prior to the military it was clear that her strength was instilled in her by her very strong and capable mother. She had a mother who accepted no boundaries to affording her children the best education and she worked extremely hard as a domestic to accomplish this task. Ms. Magee described her childhood as one of few means, however she treasured such memories as being able to eat tea cakes and drink milk while sitting on the front porch swing in Biloxi, Mississippi.

The military helped Ms. Magee afford her education, both a Bachelor of Science as well as her Juris Doctorate. She served as the First Sergeant for Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base during the Presidency of George Bush and Bill Clinton. She is a well respected leader among her colleagues and peers as well as the Prince George’s County community.