Anti-racism workshop to be held Feb. 23 in the Cape Cod Lounge

By Hayley Johnson

(Aakanksha Gupta/ Daily Collegian)

An “Anti-racism workshop: Tools for Collective Liberation” will be held Thursday, Feb. 23 in the Cape Cod Lounge from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., hosted by the Social Thought and Political Economy Student Executive Committee.

The anti-racism workshop is a continuation of the workshop and panel “Visions Beyond Trump: Building Solidarity Networks and Economies” that will be held by Divest UMass on Wednesday, Feb. 22 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. in the Commonwealth Honors College Events Hall.

The workshop will go over topics including “islamophobia, xenophobia, and anti-black racism,” according to a flyer distributed by the committee for the event.

Co-leading the anti-racism workshop are two members of the committee, Ashley Everson, a freshman STPEC major, and Brock Parent, a junior double major in STPEC and anthropology.

Everson said that the idea for the workshop stemmed from problems with race relations that came about last semester within STPEC classes. Members of the committee wanted to find a way to address these problems, such as micro-aggressions, to prevent them in the future.

Everson explained that micro-aggressions are “things that people say, or I guess do, that are racially motivated, that aren’t necessarily at face-value racially motivated…so if somebody was like ‘Can I touch your hair?’ that would be considered a micro-aggression. Or like in the classroom if you said something and somebody wasn’t listening to your opinion because it didn’t follow what [they value].”

Esteban Kelly, the executive director for the United States Federation of Workers Cooperatives and founder of the Anti-Oppression Resource & Training Alliance, will be the keynote speaker for the event on Feb. 22 and will be facilitating the anti-racism workshop.

“This two-day event that we have going with Divest, the keynote speaker, Esteban Kelly that’s coming to that, he actually does a lot of work with racial relations and how to stop repression and racism within solidarity economy work, so we kind of thought it was a really good opportunity to team up with Divest” said Everson.

“[The workshop] is going to be very open, so that’s why the Cape Cod Lounge is the ideal space…Esteban is going to give an intro…we are going to do background on what micro-aggressions are, what we’re hoping to achieve and take away from this, who is going to benefit from it, how this ties in with the Divest solidarity economy talk that we have the night before… and just lay the ground work,” Everson explained. “And then…people are going to disperse into teams or little sections, and [Kelly’s] going to have workshop prompts for us to work through together and navigate through and then come back together as a whole and discuss ideas…”

Julia Riordan, a freshman STPEC and journalism double major and member of the committee who is involved in planning the workshop, said in an email that her hopes for the event are that “if you’re a white person, you need to understand the history and significance of your privilege and how it has shaped societal institutions and public policy and the consequences it has had on the realities and lives of people of color. Racism isn’t a battle we all face, but it’s one we all must fight.”

Everson said that anyone who wants to come is welcome to attend the workshop. It is open to any major, adding, “we definitely want as many people to participate in this as they want to…Whoever wants to come, we’ll welcome.”

Hayley Johnson can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @hayleyk_johnson.