Students can learn about racism and how to combat it during a virtual, peer-led workshop that is part of the University of Michigan’s Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium.
The Anti-Racism Teach-in/Workshop, presented by the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs, will take place from 3-4:30 p.m. Jan. 24 on Zoom.
MESA Program Manager Braini McKenzie said a graduate student will lead discussions with teach-in participants about the definition of racism, the difference between nonracism and anti-racism, and how messages about race can be internalized. The session also will touch on how students can develop strategies to interrupt and combat racism in their personal lives.
“It’s very interactive,” McKenzie said. “The goal is for everyone to be a part of the conversation.”
MESA piloted the anti-racism teach-in during the winter 2019 semester, conducting eight sessions in residence halls and one at that year’s MLK Symposium. The program has grown since then, with 32 anti-racism teach-ins in the 2021-22 academic year, McKenzie said. Another 22 were conducted in the fall 2022 semester.
Students who receive special training as members of MESA’s Peer Inclusive Educator team lead each teach-in. They use various prompts to spark meaningful reflection and thoughtful conversations among session participants.
“The prompts that we provide, they allow people to think about ways they’ve experienced racism,” McKenzie said. “Having those conversations is really important because you also learn about yourself and the ways others are experiencing a situation.”
McKenzie said in peer-to-peer settings, students often feel more comfortable having honest, vulnerable conversations because they can relate to one another.
“For me, I would want students to leave (the teach-in) feeling empowered about their own stories and feel comfortable communicating with others and learning about their lived experiences,” she said. “I would hope their experience extends beyond their sphere of influence and goes into the broader community at U-M.”