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MSU Profs Conference Will Segregate ‘White Folx’ and ‘People of Color’



Author: Sergei Kelley


An upcoming Michigan State University conference for educators will separate attendees between ‘White Folx’ and ‘People of Color.’


The annual Spring Conference on Teaching, Learning, and Student Success is adding ‘affinity group’ sessions, where attendees will be separated to “provide spaces for people to work within their own identity groups.”


“To advance racial equity, there is work for white people and people of color to do separately and together,” the invitation states. For white attendees, “an affinity group provides time and space to work explicitly and intentionally on understanding white culture and white privilege and to increase one’s critical analysis around these concepts.”


[RELATED STORY: MSU Anti-Racism Event Asks Attendees How Racist Ideas and Actions ‘Shaped’ Identity]


The separate group "for people of color...is a place to work with peers to address the impact of racism, to interrupt experiences of internalized racism, and to create a space for healing and working for individual and collective liberation.”


MSU explicitly reiterates, “This is not the opportunity for white folx to engage in the POC affinity space and vice versa.”


The conference will be held virtually May 4-7, 2021. Keynote speakers for ‘affinity group’ sessions include MSU social worker Lisa Laughman and associate diversity dean Marita Gilbert.


Diversity and race sessions of the conference include: “Imagining & Creating Anti-racist Approaches to Learning & Teaching,” “Crip Methodologies in Feminist Theory as Anti-Racist Pedagogy,” and “Using Crip Theory to Foster Accessible Teaching and Learning Practices.”


Crip theory includes “queer perspectives and practices” and has “been deployed to resist the contemporary spectacle of able-bodied heteronormativity,” according to Robert McRuer in Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability.


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Other sessions highlight teaching methods amid online classes, the effect of online courses, and student trauma.


One session argues for “Making the shift to ungrading,” where grades are not used to assess student comprehension.


The ‘affinity group’ sessions are public and “participants [are asked] to opt into the affinity group that aligns with their racial identity.”


Official collaborators of the conference include The Academic Advancement Network, The Office of the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education, the Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology, and MSU IT DigitalX, among others.


The Morning Watch has reached out for comment and will update the article accordingly.




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