Student-led teach-in will explore issues of racism, oppression


University of Michigan students are invited to explore issues around racism during a unique workshop, led by their peers, as part of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium.

The Anti-Racism Teach-In, organized by the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs, will take place at 1 p.m. Jan. 25 in Room 3000 of the Michigan Union.

During the 90-minute interactive workshop, participants will reflect on historical and contemporary events and explore their impact on society using a “Four I’s of Oppression” exercise. The four I’s stand for ideology, institutional, interpersonal and internalized, said MESA Director Nadia M. Bazzy and MESA Associate Director Krishna Han.

“Through this exercise, participants are telling stories where it becomes very clear that none of these four aspects of oppression can exist separately. Each is supported by the others,” Bazzy said. “The activity is designed to help people identify how racism plays into their everyday lives, and recognize their own individual participation in a racist system.” 

The teach-in will end with a discussion about actions individuals can take to combat racism. 

MESA piloted the anti-racism teach-in during the winter 2019 semester. Eight sessions took place in various residence halls around campus, with 54 undergraduate students attending. A teach-in was also part of last year’s MLK Symposium.  

Students on MESA’s Peer Inclusive Educator team will lead the teach-in. Han said peer-to-peer learning is an effective tool because the learning is reciprocal, with all participants benefitting from the sharing of knowledge, ideas and stories.

Organizers say the objective of the teach-in is for people to gain the ability to define anti-racism, identify how racism can manifest in daily life, identify structural racism and recognize their participation in a racist system. The hope is attendees also develop one or two “action steps” to fight racism.


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