On Saturday, the 9th annual Celebrate, Educate, Appreciate, Diversity Conference (CEAD) was held at Eastern Oregon University. The main objectives for this conference are for students to learn about power, privilege, biases, and stereotypes while gaining an understanding of differences in backgrounds, beliefs, and perspectives of other students.
Eastern Oregon University invited keynote speaker Dr. Emily Drew to speak. Dr. Drew works with Casa, which is a coalition of immigrant rights, and is working to publish research based on mixed status families. Dr. Drew goes on in her speech to discuss the six gifts she has received in her line of work of social justice. These gifts that she speaks of are meant to help us individually and as a whole come closer to the riddance of racism. The six gifts are praxis, to live in both/and, having a belt of many tools, taking risks and messing up, having investment, and accountability.
Dr. Drew describes praxis to be a concept from Aerostitle, it is a tool used to keep you constantly engaged in reflection and action, that helps bring us to a result for a solution. It helps us over time, over context, and helps develop effective strategies. This relates directly to gift two of living in the land of both/and. In her speech, this refers to there not being a pure solution or perfect way to handle situations. She teaches that you must be able to understand there is no blueprint or exact way to avoid or help fix racial altercations.
Gifts three and four correlate directly to one another as well. Having a belt of many tools refers to the different ways and people to engage with using certain tools. Dr. Drew said, “Instead of going for the biggest resistor I could have won ten allies.” This is the process of using a tool to effect multiple people instead of trying to impact the loudest and biggest resistor. This ties in with gift four of taking risks and messing up. Dr. Drew discusses when engaging with resistors of recital equality that you take risks by engaging with them. However, by staying flexible and agile in conversation you can possibly help change their thinking or beliefs by being versatile with your knowledge.
Having investment is important when discussing social justice, explained Dr. Drew, because by investing your own interests you are more invested into the discussion and movement bringing more drive to help people see your belief.
Accountability is one of the most important gifts for social justice. It is the understanding that feedback is a gift. Collective and constructive feedback is crucial. Dr Drew shared a quote that said, “I am answerable to and responsible for others in this social justice community.” She further explained that this quote refers to the strength in numbers for the movement. We are all affected by the racial construct in society.
With the CEAD Conference there is an objective for students to learn about power, privilege, biases, and stereotypes while gaining an understanding of differences in backgrounds, beliefs, and perspectives of other students. Dr. Drew truly helped these objectives come to life by providing gifts on how to keep working to overcome racism and provided tools on how to positively impact those around you.