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Teach-In on Race Aims for “Informed and Encouraged” Community

The second-annual Teach-In on Race, a day-long panel series focused on issues of equality and social justice, is taking place on Friday, October 13.

Coordinated by Writing, Literature and Publishing Associate Professor Jabari Asim, the Teach-In is designed as a space where Emersonians can feel comfortable discussing difficult topics. 

“I encourage people to think of a teach-in as one step in a multi-step process,” Asim said. “We can’t solve the difficulties of racial conflict in a single day. But we hope to contribute to the conversation and to encourage Emersonians to continue working toward resolutions of these issues as we go forward.”

The Teach-In has integrated similar programming to last year’s, carrying over panel topics like “Current Crisis in Casting in Theatre and Media,” which focuses on issues of casting minorities, with new speakers.

Other panels include one led by members of Emerson’s student activist group POWER, which will focus on providing students with the resources for fighting bias and discrimination.

Asim makes an effort to make the Teach-In programming topical. This year, the focus will be on topics like appropriation and immigration, among other things. 

“We are doing things that we hope are of the moment,” Asim said. 

The need to remain current fueled Asim’s choice of this year’s keynote speaker, Dr. Chad Williams, associate professor and chair of the African and Afro-American Studies Department at Brandeis University.

“One of the things we struggle with as educators now is to come up with teaching plans or curricula that immediately respond to events that have just happened,” Asim said. “For example, can we come up with a curriculum that we can bring to our classes right now in response to the shootings in Las Vegas?”

For Asim, Williams is on the forefront of the sort of “instant scholarship” needed in classrooms today. Most notably, after the 2016 Charleston church shooting, Williams was able to immediately put together a Charleston syllabus of readings and videos designed to inform students and encourage them to take action on their own campuses.

Williams will kick off the Teach In at 10:00 a.m. with a keynote address, “Practicing History and Social Justice in Moments of Racial Crisis,” at the Cutler Majestic Theatre.

Ultimately, Asim wants students to leave the Teach-In feeling informed and encouraged.

“The risk of becoming deeply informed is that one becomes discouraged because one's becomes overwhelmed by the amount of information and the awareness of how far we have to go,” Asim said. “So we kind of want to counteract that.” 

The Teach-In on Race is sponsored by the offices of the President, Academic Affairs, Diversity and Inclusion, and the Honors Program. For a complete schedule of panels and a list of panelists, visit the Teach-In on Race web page.


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