Chloe Hannah-Drullard '20, President of the Council of Diversity and Social Justice at Kenyon

Year: 2020

Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Major: Undecided (Potential English+PoliSci double major with a WGS concentration)

Campus Activities: Black Student Union, Adelante, Unity, Qdubs, Crozier, President of the Council of Diversity and Social Justice, Thrower on Kenyon Ladies Track and Field

 

The first time I met Chloe, I was at a callback for an a capella group. I noticed her right away because her smile was so warm and welcoming (this without even knowing yet how important of a figure she would become in the class of 2020). I felt more comfortable, even though I didn’t know Chloe at all. At the end of the callbacks, we both did a little hop off the stage, and she said, “I’m just so happy to be auditioning for something!”

After that, she always said hi to me. I would see her pass by on her skateboard and feel like there was a kinship between us. At first, I couldn’t figure out who to talk to for this profile. I love my friends, but I wanted to learn something new about someone. Chloe became the obvious choice because she is someone who had welcomed me with ease. When we sat down in the Horvitz lobby, there were nerves at first, but I can honestly say that my conversation with Chloe was one of the most positive and thought-provoking conversations I’ve ever had at Kenyon. It was easy to span many different topics because Chloe is involved in so many different groups. On campus, Chloe competes in throwing events on the Track and Field team, is a member of BSU, Adelante, Unity, Qdubs, and Crozier, and is the President of the Council​ of Diversity and Social Justice. I found myself enchanted with her ability to speak her truth on all sorts of intersectional issues she faces. I can honestly say that I have yet to meet a more determined yet open-minded individual in my life.

Hopefully, through this profile, I can share just a bit of Chloe’s magic with all of you.

What elements of Quakerism are most important to you in your everyday life?

I think one of the most important ones is being comfortable with silence. A lot of people, especially when they come to a new environment like a college campus, they feel that every silence is an awkward silence, but all Quakers do for their services is sit in silence and appreciate the presence in the room. That’s a skill that I think is kind of important when you’re trying not to lose your head.

 

How do you think your political views have evolved in the past year?

I’m a lot less liberal than I thought I was. Or, let me rephrase. It’s not that I’m less liberal, I guess, it’s more that my liberalism has expanded, and now comes into contrast with other liberal ideas. I only think about things intersectionally now, which is kind of stressful because then almost every political issue relates to me in a big way. But most viewpoints that I’ve seen of late are what I call “privileged liberalism,” which very prevalent on college campuses. With privileged liberalism, there’s a lot of focus on this crazy dream of overall, global progress. “Save the planet,” “help the indigenous nations,” “clean the water,” “fix the world and do it quickly.” But I feel that there are some very specific and small things that need to be done before we have these giant aspirations. So politically, I’ve become more cynical, but I always take everything with a grain of salt and fill it with an element of humor.

 

What do you think most concerns the LGBTQ+ community on Kenyon’s campus?

I think one thing that could be done a whole lot better, a very big concern for certain members of the LGBTQ community, is that there needs to be a higher emphasis on the intersectionality of groups. Always. Intersectionality will be my answer for everything.

What would that look like to you?

Well, it’s already in the making. A friend and I were just talking today about starting a Queers of Color group on campus, and I know there’s already rumors of a Queer Woman of Color group. So that’s definitely gonna happen, and I think one thing that the CDSJ is trying to do is get different groups to get together and have meetings where they talk about how their topics relate to each other. So if queers of color are frustrated because they go to Qdubs and don’t feel that it is for them, then what CDSJ will try to do is arrange a meeting between Qdubs and the BSU/Sisterhood, and have them brainstorm.

 

Who is your biggest role model?

That’s really tough because I feel like a lot of people have had a really big impact on my life. But I’ve seen a lot of those people make really big mistakes, so it’s hard to say who I would model myself after. But if I could live similarly to any person, it would be Michelle Carter. She’s the Olympic shot put athlete who won the gold for the United States. I love her. She’s sexy, first of all, but I relate to her because I’m a shot put thrower as well, and I’m a shot put thrower who has felt super uncomfortable in my own body just because I’m thick. For me, my journey through athletics has been kind of weird, because being “Fat Athlete” was not something I decided to do (obviously), but that label was put on me as if “athlete” and “fat athlete” are concepts that need to be distinguished. So, especially in my younger teen years, I was never comfortable with the way I looked. That was partly because I didn’t have many people like me to look up to. I started doing track in high school, and as I got better at it, I was like, who exactly do throwers look up to with a name that they can pronounce? This is a rough competition, and all the Russians are winning, but none of the Russians look like me; I can’t relate to them. And then along comes Michelle Carter, and she’s this brown goddess with arms of steel and the most positive attitude and a wonderful story and I’m like, well damn. Here’s my role model.

What has been your experience as a minority at Kenyon?

I wanna start by saying that every person’s experience on this campus is different. I can’t speak for all of us as a whole. As far as my experience goes, to me, it seems like issues are looked at holistically, which is usually a good thing. But sometimes, specifics need to be looked at. I had an experience the day after the election––there was a campus gathering, and on the way into that meeting, I had a buddy who came up to me and asked me how I was doing. I said, “Oh I think I’m doing alright. How are you?” And he said, “Probably the same as you,” which rubbed me the wrong way because, as far as I know, this guy is a cisgender straight white male. That makes a difference, considering someone had called me the N-word in a Walmart in the weeks leading up to the election, and I had shrugged it off under the impression that Hillary would win, and that I’d be advocated for, and that bigots like these wouldn’t get comfortable. That was a perfect example of how on this campus there seems to be this general “we are all in this together” attitude, which I appreciate in terms of making progress, but in terms of feeling strife, I do not.

There needs to be a lot more focus on how a lot of people are feeling this in deeper and way more tangible ways. Having your viewpoints questioned or shot down sucks, but having your existence threatened feels way worse (so, when people say that conservatives at Kenyon feel “unsafe,” I just want to ask them to think really hard about what “unsafe” means. “Uncomfortable” may be a better word for what they feel). I think a lot of people on this campus don’t understand just how bad things really are. They’re like, “Oh, well at least you’re here at Kenyon. it’s a safe haven. You’re comfortable. Carefree.” And I’m like, “Well… not exactly.” Because politically, culturally, socially we (the minority community, I feel) are lonely.

Not gonna lie, it’s difficult for me to feel “one” with Kenyon. I love Kenyon to death; I’m applying to be an Admissions Intern because I want to spread my love for Kenyon, but I’m also applying to be an Admissions Intern because this campus needs some diversity. If we don’t have more people speaking for that, and trying to get that, we aren’t gonna get it. It’s been hard for the class of 2020 with its eleven...maybe twelve black females and one black male to feel that we are truly connected to campus. When you’re this lonely, when you’re so singular on campus, every little bad thing that happens, every negative experience, you can’t help but attribute to your blackness. Even if it’s completely unrealistic, even if that’s not the case at all, you can’t help it. There will be times where I’m sitting alone in Peirce, and I’ll think that the reason I’m sitting alone is because I’m black. Which makes no sense at all! None! Nobody is that racist here! But for some reason, it just goes there, and you feel automatically like you don’t belong. You must be alone because you are disliked, or because people don’t feel comfortable sitting with you. And that’s just how it works in your head. It’s wrong, but it’s real.

 

How do you think we improve that experience?

The biggest step would be to increase people’s interests in other cultures just by having other cultures present. Diversification is key. This goes for faculty as well, almost more than the student body. Because listen: when almost none of your faculty can speak on your experience, you become the educator, and it is exhausting. I am tired of being the educator. That is one thing that minority students have to deal with that other students simply cannot relate to. Unless you’re from a very obscure religion or have a very rare illness, there are very rare points in time where you have to be the educator and speak for your people. Anybody can be queer, anybody can be of a certain sect, anybody can have allergies or quirks or whatever, but not anybody can be black.

Truth be told, there are times when I just want to be a student, not a “Black Student” (which goes back to the “Fat Athlete” thing. Just stop it. I am not a symbol. Thank you). For all the pride that I have being black, I really do just want to have the experience of just being a student. Don’t get me wrong, I do connect with my professors. I love them all, but the person I’ve connected to most is Monica Garcia Blizzard in the Spanish department. It’s been so relieving to just talk to someone who can relate to the experiences of anxiety or depression that people can have as minorities in a majority context. Having her around was extremely helpful during the election. And after the election, the issues at hand were all so personal to me that I became exhausted, and I failed to be the student that I know I am. My participation grades plummeted because I was so overwhelmed and hopeless, and I didn’t even have the energy or the fortitude to state my case. My professors of color got it. The rest did not. I just kind of had to let that grade go, because trying to get my professor to relate to my lived experience would be too difficult in the moment. But in my opinion, the impact of an experience like that should be general knowledge emphasized in the pedagogy at Kenyon. Having a diverse faculty that can try to educate each other, advocate for minority students, and spread empathy would be good, definitely. No student should have that responsibility forced on them.

 

What are your feelings on social media being a vehicle for social justice?

I actually recently deleted all of my social media. It’s been three weeks since the last time I had those apps on my phone. Because truth be told, it was depressing me. Like, a lot. I feel a whole lot more stable and productive without social media being a part of my everyday life. I don’t think social media is an effective method of pursuing social justice at all. Because it might make some impact and inspire at least one or two people, but at the end of the day the majority of what’s going on is a click and share, instant gratification, faux stewardship. So I wouldn’t use social media for anything except promoting my art and promoting my aesthetic (and memes, but that’s an afterthought). I guess the question, then, is what do you do instead? Well, I think we have to act, but that is difficult considering our position––we’ve got assignments to do and people to see and we’re really not that knowledgeable, truth be told. We’re clever kids, sure, but we have to keep our limitations in mind. But that’s what college is for, yeah? So I feel like if you basically stay woke, and look at numbers and things that don’t lie so that you can see exactly what effect big businesses and racial biases have on these (my) communities, then you won’t go through life being complacent. If you have awareness and even an ounce compassion, you can’t defend or ignore the way we’re living right now.

 

Image Credit: Valerie LaVar, Sophia Stio, Eden McEwan