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Teach-In on Race Looks to Open Up Conversation

Activist/educator Rachel Kuo will lead the keynote conversation for this year’s Teach-In on Race.

Finding diverse voices to share their stories and expertise isn’t hard. Just ask Jabari Asim.

Asim, associate professor of Writing, Literature and Publishing and director of the Creative Writing graduate program, is organizing Emerson’s annual Teach-In on Race for the third year in a row. Sometimes he hears people complain that they can’t find people from different backgrounds to participate in different things, fill certain roles, etc.

“The Teach-In has been a model of how to [recruit diverse people] and it really hasn’t been hard,” Asim said.

The 2018 Teach-In will be held Friday, October 12, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. It will begin with a keynote conversation in the Cutler Majestic Theatre, then break off into individual panels and activities across campus throughout the day.

Asim has asked Rachel Kuo, a scholar, educator, and contributing writer to Everyday Feminism, to lead the Teach-In’s keynote discussion. And it is a discussion this year – not an address – Asim said. Kuo will speak for 15-20 minutes before student representatives invited from various campus groups (Flawless Brown, EAGLE, ASIA) and Kuo kick off a conversation. At the end, the floor will open to the audience.

“We’ve put a little more air in the keynote,” he said.

Kuo, who researches digital technologies and racial justice movements and has designed curriculum and communication strategy for the New York University Center for Multicultural Education and Programs and the University of Wisconsin Multicultural Student Center, could offer key insights for students interested in social justice organizing, as well as faculty who want to learn how to better reflect diversity in their curriculum and classroom, he said.

New this year will be a Wiki Edit-a-Thon sponsored by the Iwasaki Library focused on screenwriters of color. Anyone can drop by the library between 1:00-4:00 pm and help add citations or information to existing Wikipedia pages or flesh out page stubs with scant detail. At 2:30 pm, Assistant Professor Rae Shaw, a new Visual and Media Arts faculty member, will talk about her current research project on African American screenwriters.

Christina Dent, assistant director of teaching and learning at the Library, said she first got the idea for a Wiki Edit-a-Thon from a webinar she sat in on where a librarian in California talked about one his university did about the Executive Order creating Japanese internment camps during World War II.

“I was fascinated by this and I thought this is a very good idea and seemed like something Emerson should do,” Dent said. (Associate Professor Magda Romanska has done a similar project for her World Drama class, beefing up entries for underrepresented playwrights and plays.)

Dent said she learned from a Wiki Edit-a-Thon on the Global South that Boston University hosted this summer that the vast majority of content on Wikipedia is generated by white men.

“Trying to bring other voices and other perspectives into this collective is very interesting to us,” Dent said.

“As much as people criticize Wikipedia as ‘unreliable,’ well, it’s only as reliable as you make it,” she said.

One panel that will be returning after a year’s hiatus is Intersectionality (Where Identities Meet), which meets from 1:45-2:45 pm in Walker 202. It was wildly popular in year one of the Teach-In, so Asim brought it back, with writer, artist/designer, “hacker mama” and Assistant Professor Catherine D’Ignazio; Raz Moayed ’20 of Student Government Association, Zeta Phi Eta, and Flawless Brown; actor, writer, and Jessica Chance ’00, assistant director for alumni and graduate students at Emerson’s Career Development Center. It will be moderated by Assistant Professor Erika Williams of the Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies.

“That’s one students really responded to,” Asim said of “Intersectionality.”

Other panels will include:

A Primer for Activists, 11:15 am-12:15 pm, Semel Theater

Whose America?, 11:15 am-12:15 pm, Greene Theater

The POWER You Hold,” 12:30-1:30 pm, Multipurpose Room

Artful Change, 1:45-2:45 pm, Greene Theater

Building Community, 3:00-4:00 pm, Greene Theater

Who Gets to Tell the Story? (Race, Art and Appropriation), 3:00-4:00 pm, Walker 202

For a full schedule with list of speakers, visit the Teach-In on Race web page.




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