GA Voice - - Outspoken -

Ra­mon John­son is a ju­nior at More­house Col­lege, where he serves as pres­i­dent of More­house Safe Space — an or­ga­ni­za­tion founded in 2002 that fa­cil­i­tates an in­clu­sive cam­pus en­vi­ron­ment for stu­dents of all gen­ders and sex­u­al­i­ties.

When John­son en­tered More­house as a Tucker High School grad­u­ate, he came to be a mu­sic ma­jor. But in­spired by the peo­ple he met at Safe Space, he swapped to so­ci­ol­ogy. Now, he’s got big plans not just for his ca­reer, but with ex­pand­ing the legacy of the or­ga­ni­za­tion that so shaped his own life into one that con­tin­ues to help oth­ers.

How did you go from be­ing a mu­sic ma­jor to so­ci­ol­ogy?

It wasn’t un­til I started get­ting politi­cized through Safe Space and learn­ing about the im­por­tance of pro­gres­sive ide­olo­gies, like black fem­i­nism, that I started to re­al­ize that I wanted to have a ca­reer where I am am­pli­fy­ing the voices of marginal­ized groups, es­pe­cially queer and trans peo­ple of color. That’s where I started to get more in­volved in Safe Space.

I really would love to be a lead­ing in­tel­lec­tual in re­gards to fa­cil­i­tat­ing an in­clu­sive cam­pus en­vi­ron­ment on black col­lege cam­puses, and I would love to do that as a pro­fes­sor.

Why is Safe Space such an im­por­tant part of your col­lege ca­reer?

It was lit­er­ally a safe space for me. It felt like fam­ily. When I was com­ing to More­house, I was go­ing through a lot of trauma af­ter com­ing out to my fam­ily and, you know, of course my par­ents strug­gling to grap­ple with my sex­u­al­ity and also me get­ting to know who I am. I looked to Safe Space as a com­mu­nity to heal and to find friends and fam­ily who are just like me. I re­mem­ber see­ing pre­vi­ous [ex­ec­u­tive] board

March 17, 2017

mem­bers lead­ing on cam­pus and I was like, I don’t know how I’m go­ing to get there, but I’m go­ing to get there.

One of our first sto­ries at Ge­or­gia Voice was about Safe Space’s Pride Week, which we’re com­ing up on now. Can you share some of the de­tails of the 2017 event?

Pride Week, which was started in 2010, has al­ways been a week for queer and trans stu­dents to cel­e­brate them­selves holis­ti­cally, spir­i­tu­ally and cul­tur­ally.

The theme is “Al­lure: Con­quer­ing Black Queer Magic.” We have to look within our­selves for the magic that lies within. Of­ten­times dom­i­nant cul­ture tries to tell you to sup­press your black queer magic. What we do is work on re­claim­ing it.

This year I’m ex­cited be­cause we are lit­er­ally kick­ing things up in much higher gear. Some of our events that will be tak­ing place March 26 through April 1 in­clude our drag show; we’re also go­ing to have an in­spi­ra­tional cer­e­mony where we have a heal­ing cir­cle to start off the week. Also we have our key­note, which is led by Dr. Ja­fari S. Allen and Tarell Alvin McCraney. He was a re­cent Os­car-win­ner for “Moon­light.” We’re also hav­ing a LGBT con­cert called “The Power.”

How have you seen Safe Space grow since you be­came in­volved as a fresh­man?

I’ve seen us be­come more po­lit­i­cal. I think there’s def­i­nitely more room for growth. I would say the cul­ture at More­house Col­lege is def­i­nitely chang­ing as far as stu­dents rec­og­niz­ing the power that they have, es­pe­cially queer and trans stu­dents.

We have built more al­liances with com­mu­nity part­ners in the At­lanta area and on the More­house cam­pus, but we also, I would say we also made more strides with mak­ing sure that our poli­cies are re­flec­tive of our mis­sion state­ment and our em­brace for all stu­dents. We re­cently ad­vo­cated for the in­clu­sion of all LGBT folks from be­ing dis­crim­i­nated against, and also mak­ing sure that we have more gen­der-neu­tral bath­rooms on cam­pus.

What is the LGBT re­source cen­ter Safe Space is in­volved in?

We made some big strides in try­ing to pro­vide schol­ar­ships to LGBT stu­dents and mak­ing sure LGBT stu­dents of More­house have a phys­i­cal space where you can go, which is the LGBT Re­source Cen­ter. I’m proud to say that I’ll be serv­ing as the found­ing stu­dent co­or­di­na­tor. It’s been a long time com­ing.

[Safe Space mem­bers] func­tion as LGBT co­or­di­na­tors for the col­lege. In some cases we’re con­sul­tants, coun­selors, ac­tivists of course, and that work can be very tax­ing on a

Pride Week “The Power” Con­cert

Fea­tur­ing Jay Boo­gie, Du­rand Bernarr, Rahbi and Cakes Da Killa; ben­e­fit­ing More­house Col­lege’s LGBT Re­source Cen­ter Wed­nes­day, March 29 at 7:30 p.m. Sale Hall, 830 Westview Drive S.W., At­lanta, GA 30314 Tick­ets:


stu­dent. That’s one of the rea­sons we’ve been very ag­gres­sive about the in­sti­tu­tion hir­ing a LGBT co­or­di­na­tor. … Of­ten­times I think the work of LGBT stu­dents can be co-opted. The work that we do can eas­ily, I would say, be over­looked. And so, for in­stance, what I just told you about how the stu­dents are be­hind the LGBT Re­source Cen­ter, you would prob­a­bly not know that if the univer­sity did an un­veil­ing. It would have been the ad­min­is­tra­tors who got the spot­light. The work of queer and trans peo­ple can of­ten be taken ad­van­tage of and we’re try­ing to work on that by re­claim­ing our nar­ra­tive.

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