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MSU Anti-Racism Event Asks Attendees How Racist Ideas and Actions ‘Shaped’ Identity

Contributor: Bri Saroli

A recent anti-racism event at Michigan State University asked how attendees were shaped or have benefited from racism and demanded implementation of anti-racism education in kindergarten.

On October 27, Dr. Darrell King, Associate Director of Multicultural Business Programs, presented, “Follow the Yellow Brick Road, Your Journey Toward Anti-Racism” webinar. This was part of the WACSS Anti-Racism Insight Series and presented over Zoom and included several presentation slides.

[RELATED STORY: MSU Students Facing Inability of ‘Viewing Grades’ Over Mandated Diversity Training]

Dr. King began by sharing that our anti-racist journey begins with recognizing racism in daily life. He announced that his driving question would relate to “how has [your] identity been shaped by racist ideas, policies, and actions?”

He relied heavily on content and tips from Dr. Robin J. DiAngelo, who is an American academic, lecturer, and author of White Fragility, which researches critical discourse analysis and the study of whiteness.

“Demand...anti-racist instruction a core part of the curriculum from kindergarten through college,” is a tip the director shared from Dr. DiAngelo. Further, questions were posed from White Fragility such as, “What does it mean to be white?” and “How has being White shaped my life?”

Dr. King presents DiAngelo’s conclusion: “All white people have been socialized into racist systems, and it is inevitable that we all have blind spots."

[RELATED STORY: ‘COURAGEOUS’: MSU Seminar Shares Breathing Technique to Reduce ‘Racial Stress’]

The need to do our own work to fight racism was prominent in his speech. He explained in order to be a fully functioning adult in today’s society, one must be able to challenge and combat racism.

Dr. King repeatedly raised the question of how people of color have “been shaped by these racist systems," and even though these questions could not be answered in this session, they “are a part of one’s journey.”

Students and attendants over the chat in the Zoom session explained why they joined this meeting. “To educate myself,” “love for humankind,” “I want to teach my 11 year old daughter to be anti-racist,” “desire to be a better ally,” “be a better ally to people of color,” and “speak to family and friends on this matter” attendees shared.

Dr. King also asserted that due to “racial inequality [that is also] intersectional, and related to class, gender and sexuality," he could still be the “next George Floyd…regardless of [his] background, regardless of [his] education, regardless of what [we] see today."

Concluding his discussion, Dr. King explained that we are in a “racist society where racism is prevalent," and we are in dire need of new anti-racist policies to put into place. Continuing, he stated there is a need to dismantle racism in places of work, religion, education, and we should show empathy to others while calling out racist policies.

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