DEI Summit to explore critical race theory, hip-hop


In the 1970s, hip-hop emerged in America as a cultural movement that aimed to empower marginalized and disenfranchised individuals.

During that same period, and following the civil rights movement, legal scholars developed critical race theory as an academic and legal framework describing ways that systemic forces — such as policies, laws and structures — can uphold and reproduce inequalities.

This year’s annual DEI Summit will celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop and highlight its intersection with critical race theory, celebrating and exploring the power of storytelling as a driving force for social change.

The summit, titled “Truth Telling: The Kinship of Critical Race Theory and Hip-Hop,” will kick off at an Oct. 9 community assembly and include a roundtable discussion with hip-hop artists and critical race theory experts, and will feature multiple performances.

“Each year, our summit planning team invites and helps develop new ideas and opportunities for community engagement,” said Tabbye Chavous, vice provost for equity and inclusion, and chief diversity officer.

“A priority is inviting impactful speakers — representing diverse backgrounds and perspectives — who can share expertise and lived experiences that help educate, stimulate our thinking and reflection, and inspire action. I am incredibly proud to mark the launch of our DEI 2.0 Strategic Plan with this year’s community assembly theme.”

Co-sponsored by the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Michigan Medicine, the event will begin at 10 a.m. in the Power Center for the Performing Arts and will be livestreamed.

Speakers include:

  • David Banner, Grammy-winning hip-hop artist, producer and social activist.
  • andré douglas pond cummings, author and Charles C. Baum Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
  • Rapsody, Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist.

The roundtable discussion will be moderated by Antonio Cuyler, professor of music in entrepreneurship & leadership in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

The community assembly will feature a special performance by Rapsody and a student hip-hop cypher, which will entail a group of students on stage performing their original hip-hop piece over a beat.

University leaders, including Chavous, President Santa J. Ono and Provost Laurie McCauley, will deliver remarks.

This year’s summit will mark the launch of the university’s second five-year DEI Strategic Plan, DEI 2.0, which represents the university’s continued commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and builds on the lessons from DEI 1.0.

“We have learned a great deal from our community following DEI 1.0, including areas where we have made considerable progress as well as areas where progress has lagged significantly for certain groups,” said Katrina Wade-Golden, associate vice provost for equity and inclusion and deputy chief diversity officer.

“We will build on these learnings as we move forward. As we embark on DEI 2.0, we will continue to work closely and collaboratively with our university community to support the success of each plan put forth by our schools, colleges and units.”

As part of the DEI 2.0 launch, members of the community also are invited to participate in a DEI 2.0 Plan Information Session at 3 p.m. Oct. 18 in the Michigan League Ballroom.

The session will explore the strategies and initiatives that will be applied during the five-year strategic plan execution, as well as allow for discussions about the aspirations of the plan.

Separately, a communitywide open house and celebration will take place from 4-6 p.m. Oct. 9 at Regents’ Plaza and the LSA Atrium to mark the official launch of the university’s DEI 2.0 plan.

The interactive open house is open to all students, faculty and staff and will feature a live D.J., food, photo opportunities and prizes. It also will allow U-M community members to engage with university leadership, including Chavous and Martino Harmon, vice president for student life.

In addition to the community assembly and information session, the DEI Summit will feature events throughout October.


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