By Zenebou Sylla ‘22
Emerson’s 5th Annual Teach-In on Race is back Thursday, March 18, and Friday, March 19, highlighting this year’s theme of “The Year of Living Dangerously: Equity, Self-Care, and the Pursuit of Justice.”
The event will feature six panels, along with a keynote speaker in a virtual two-day event. The Teach-In will begin with a conversation about “Art and the Art of Survival” at 4:00 pm, March 18, while the keynote speaker, Dr. Eve L. Ewing, a sociologist of education, writer, and Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, will speak on “1919 and Beyond,” starting at 10:00 am on the second day.
Associate Professor Jabari Asim, Elma Lewis Distinguished Fellow and Graduate Program Director for the MFA Program in Creative Writing, founded and organizes the Teach-In with help from colleagues, the Honors Institute, the Elma Lewis Center, the Social Justice Center, and Academic Affairs.
Asim started the Teach-In as a way to provide a supportive discussion around the issues of race and racism, starting with the Emerson community.
“There are a lot of different ways we can approach [these discussions], the Teach-In is just one,” Asim said. “It’s not going to cure anything, it’s not going to end racism, it’s not going to end anti-Black racism, but it’s fulfilling in the way that I’m doing something constructive.”
In a typical year, the event runs on one day in the Fall semester, and would be followed by a luncheon in which students would have the chance to meet and connect with the keynote speaker in person. The Fall 2020 Teach-In was postponed, as Asim was on professional leave, and will be held entirely virtually this Spring due to the pandemic.
Emerson students, faculty, and staff will be invited to participate and let their voices to be heard as the conversations investigate issues such as immigration, mass incarceration, and police brutality.
“I look at everything as a conversation, and of course, anything about racial justice, United States history about racism, anti-indigenous racism, anti-Black racism, etc., is a part of that conversation, so the Teach-In is [a] further discussion within that conversation,” said Asim
Asim hopes that the Teach-In on Race can provide more accessible resources for students, encourage individuals to talk and stay informed about difficult matters surrounding race, and allow for ways to be engaged about how to respond, in particular, to individuals who are not people of color.
“What I hope it does is increase people’s comfort level around their willingness to address subjects that are often uncomfortable, and part of that motivation is people who aren’t of color, they have the choice of engaging in these subjects and not engaging,” said Asim.
All Zoom links and event details for panel events are available to Emerson community members. (Participants will have to login (DUO) with your Emerson credentials to view.)