Senior and first-generation college student Samuel Gutierrez is the president of Brother 2 Brother, a club at CWU that focuses on leadership and community engagement committed to success for men of color.
Gutierrez stepped into the role after holding the position of vice president last year. He joined the club after one of his anthropology classes inspired him to start thinking about certain topics, such as white privilege and the perceived barriers that people of color face.
“Being an anthropology student, you are exposed to different cultural elements that can be very awakening,” Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez described meeting three well-dressed black men on campus and joined a conversation about these cultural topics with them. One of these men was Dr. Tyrone Bledsoe, founder of a national organization called the Student African American Brotherhood. Dr. Bledsoe took Gutierrez to a meeting to further discuss their ideas, and two weeks later, Gutierrez was flown out to Detroit to attend the Student African American Brotherhood Leadership Conference.
“It was an enlightening and awakening experience,” Gutierrez said.
The conference inspired Gutierrez to get involved with B2B and be an activist for people of color. He added that people of all walks of life are welcome to the club. B2B has about 35 consistent members of many different backgrounds.
“We have one of the most diverse group of gentlemen I’ve ever seen in any congregation on campus,” Gutierrez said. “You walk in and there is an immense feeling of brotherhood and camaraderie.”
B2B focuses on community engagement, activism and empowerment within the community. Leadership is one of the biggest emphasises of organization, according to Gutierrez. Members of the organization come up with different projects and ideas designed to better the community and break down cultural barriers.
“I think it’s an ideal template for how we should be grooming future leaders,” Gutierrez said.
Members of the organization are required to dress professionally at meetings.
“One of the purposes for [the dress code] is to make sure that we’re indexing different icons of success in society,” Gutierrez said. He adds that people often notice the well-dressed men and ask where they are going and what they are involved in, which also helps to get people who are curious about the organization involved.
Gutierrez is passionate about scientific education and literacy, especially among students who speak English as a second language. He has even gone to local schools to teach students and give them a role model to look up to. Gutierrez and B2B are also forming a conference interpretation program in which a group of third graders as well as members of B2B will help to interpret parent teacher conferences at local schools with high Spanish-speaking populations.
Gutierrez hopes that this program will lead to even more involvement between CWU and local schools, especially within the growing Hispanic and Latinx community.
“I call this the ‘olive branch.’ From one progressive institution to another, we are showing that we’re on board,” Gutierrez said. “I think it’s important to give everybody someone to look up to.”
B2B is also active in putting on various workshops and going to local schools to teach and give students someone to look up to. The organization works closely with other clubs on campus such as SISTERS and the Black Student Union to collaborate on certain projects. The success of these programs is reliant on student involvement.
“It takes student activism and student mobilization to get things like this on the road,” Gutierrez said.
“There is this perceived veil and social order that a lot men of color appeal to. Brother 2 Brother is crucial in that it helps to break that boundary of what you thought you could previously achieve,” Gutierrez said.
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