Lee To Host Racial Justice Advocacy Workshop

Tuesday, September 19, 2017 - by Sara Groos, Lee University

Lee University will host an advocacy workshop, “Face to Face: Responding to Discrimination with Boldness and Love,” on Monday, Sept. 25, from 7-8 p.m. The workshop will take place on Lee’s campus in the Johnson Lecture Hall located in the Humanities Building. 

The evening’s goal is to give participants the skills and boldness to defend minorities in social situations by creating possible scenarios and discussing positive responses one might make to them.  

Dr. Carolyn Dirksen, Lee’s director of faculty development, and Dr. Trevor Milliron, director of graduate programs in counseling at Lee, are co-coordinating this workshop. 

“I think our culture is trained to maintain a social equilibrium,” said Dr. Dirksen. “For most of us, our first instinct is to keep the peace or to do the polite thing. We can no longer say, ‘we should not make a big deal about this.’ I think things are getting to the point where we have to make a big deal out of it.” 

Participants will discuss four scenarios during the workshop: confronting racism when one has a relationship with the person who is saying or doing something inappropriate, confronting racism when one has a relationship with the person who is being hurt, confronting racism when one sees something happen in public, and recognizing how one’s own behavior can be hurtful. 

Drs. Dirksen and Milliron reached out to those who have experienced injustice, especially locally, and asked, “What would you like someone to do for you in situations like this?” 

These scenarios primarily derived from the personal experiences of Lee students and how they would have desired for allies to respond. 

“More and more people are finding themselves in situations like this, and we don’t know what to say,” said Dr. Dirksen. “We don’t know how to appropriately respond. Racial issues are becoming more overt, and we have to learn to say something.” 

The workshop will begin with a presentation of general principles and goals before dividing into smaller groups to practice responses to the specific scenarios and reflect on their appropriateness. 

Earlier in the semester, Lee held a candlelight vigil, a night dedicated to reflection and promotion of racial peace on Lee’s campus. According to Dr. Dirksen, Lee continues to believe that events of this nature are pivotal to the campus environment and stance for racial solidarity. 

“I believe that we are in a time that needs a lot of understanding of each other,” said Dr. Arlie Tagayuna, assistant professor of sociology at Lee. “Oftentimes, we choose to live as strangers rather than as a community that seeks Christ through knowing and loving others. It is in this dereliction that our university should provide the praxis of creating safe spaces for conversation and response against the mistreatment of others in our campus and elsewhere.” 

The workshop is a free, non-ticketed event, open to the public. 

For more information about the workshop, contact cdirksen@leeuniversity.edu.

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