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Breaking Through: A Discussion on Privilege and Identity in America
On Friday, Nov. 4, the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the SUNY ESF Student Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives Office will host students, faculty and staff for “Breaking Through: Finding Common Ground—A Discussion on Privilege and Identity in America.” The discussion will be held at ESF’s Gateway Event Center from 3-5 p.m. The discussion is timely and the organizers hope to explore and highlight the forces that unify the campus communities.
As we strive to build community and foster a more inclusive environment, James Duah-Agyeman, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, reflects on the ways the event encourages the campus community to achieve these goals, “We should not be afraid to engage in dialogue, as it’s a starting point for understanding and challenging ourselves to imagine a more just society.”
The event features the following panelists:
Allen, a staff therapist at SU’s Counseling Center, practices from an integrative approach that is driven by interpersonal and client-centered theories within a multicultural framework. She also utilizes culturally relevant and gender-specific interventions. Her early career experiences consisted of extensive work with court-referred adolescents and young adults. Her professional interests are anxiety, depression, trauma, identity exploration, assessment and multicultural issues. Social justice and advocacy are at the forefront of her professional identity. She currently co-facilitates an Undergraduate Process Group at the Counseling Center.
A faculty member in ESF’s Department of Landscape Architecture focusing on planning and urban design, Carter has interests in the intersection of politics and design, and in thinking of cities as ecosystems—thus prompting the question, “What must be done to make this city sustainable?” He has put these ideas into practice in international collaborations with city planning teams in Spain and Chile and has also connected domestically in such cities as Syracuse and Philadelphia.
Franklin is a graduate study research fellow at Syracuse University in the Pan African Studies Program, as well as an academic consultant for the fullCIRCLE Mentoring Program in the Office of Multicultural Affairs. Franklin’s objective is to build the skills and knowledge necessary to understand and analyze the Pan African experience as reflected in multiple historical, social, and political contexts, most notably among Afro populations in Africa, the Caribbean and the United States.
Gray is the director of SU’s LGBT Resource Center and works collaboratively with staff to plan, facilitate and implement annual events such as the LGBTQA Welcome Social, Coming Out Month, Creating Change Conference participation, Trans Day of Liberation and the Rainbow Banquet. In addition, she facilitates educational presentations and trainings including “Basics,” “Safer People, Safer Spaces” and other social justice related workshops, and facilitates “Fusion,” a discussion group for LGBTQA students of color. Gray’s continued areas of interest include identity development of LGBTQ students of color, leadership development and mentorship for LGBTQ students, creating and sustaining allyship, and exploring liberatory frameworks.
Distinguished teaching professor at ESF in the Department of Environmental Forest Biology, Kimmerer stresses relationships with the land in her courses in botany and indigenous issues and the environment. An expert in bryology, she founded ESF’s Center for Native Peoples and the Environment to connect traditional ecological knowledge and scientific ecological knowledge. The center’s programs include a student exchange between ESF’s Huntington Wildlife Forest in the Adirondacks and the College of Menominee Nation in Keshena, Wisconsin; efforts to encourage native students to attend graduate school; and a youth program with the Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force.
The panelists will explore current issues, such as the upcoming presidential election, the Dakota Pipeline, race in America, gender equality and community policing. Duah-Agyeman says, “The event will be an opportunity for our campus communities to discuss and learn about different perspectives concerning hot-button issues in our society.”
For Scott Blair, ESF’s director for student diversity and inclusion initiatives and coordinator for institutional diversity and inclusion, the collaboration and engagement between SU and ESF is key to demonstrating how people can find common ground. “This initiative is a unique opportunity to bring our campuses together. With so many different topics and issues around us, the most important thing is to engage in our stories—in our experiences—and that power of uniting is the first step in making positive change for the future. We are glad to be able to collaborate with our colleagues in the Office of Multicultural Affairs for this opportunity.”
To foster a safe space for conversation, attendees are given the option to share what is on their minds as they register for the event. The registration form includes a space to express thoughts as they review the event description, and these submissions will be used to form questions for the panelists. For more information, contact Huey Hsiao in the Office of Multicultural Affairs.