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Six week workshop on race launches this week

September 25, 2020

This fall, a group of students is engaging in a six-week workshop series called “Race, Power, Oppression, and Liberation.” Responding to students’ interest in engaging in racial justice work at Bowdoin and beyond, the workshop will meet weekly to discuss personal identity and power, institutional and social systems of oppression, anti-racist work and liberation.

Kate Stern, associate dean of students for inclusion and diversity and director of the Center for Sexuality, Women and Gender, and Eduardo Pazos, director of religious and spiritual life, are leading the workshop. According to Stern and Pazos, it requires a sizable time commitment, but it will enable student participants to dive deep and engage meaningfully with racial justice.

“We often feel like we are doing the first step, we are planting a seed, we are doing the beginning of something,” said Stern. “The time commitment [of this workshop] allows people to go a lot deeper into the learning exploration of how not to just begin to learn, but [explore] ‘how do you move towards liberation? How do you get to that next piece?’ which in a short term program, you can’t do as much.”

Pazos echoed Stern, claiming the workshop would be, “the first time we are introducing this idea of what it means for us to try and find a way to move forward and to healing and to what Martin Luther King calls ‘the beloved community.’”

One student participant in the workshop, Emily Simons ’24, attended a Black Lives Matter discussion (also held by Pazos and Stern) over the summer for incoming first-year students and was seeking opportunities for further self-education through these important conversations.

“I signed up for the workshop in order to learn how to engage in productive dialogue surrounding race and to engage in anti-racist work,” said Simons. “I’m so glad that Bowdoin is creating programming around this issue, and I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity for learning and growth.”

Stern was eager to remind students that, although the workshop began this past Tuesday, there are still spots available for last-minute additions. Stern hoped that those students who couldn’t commit to the workshop now would remain engaged with this kind of work.

“We know a lot of students are really busy and overwhelmed with the state of everything and can’t do it right now, but we would love those students to be in touch and think about ways to be involved in terms of the future,” she said.

Pazos agreed, emphasizing the perpetual nature of racial justice work.

“We always say,” reminded Pazos, “justice is not a destination—justice is a practice. So I think, for the nine hours we are going to be saying that, from the beginning to the end: you don’t arrive at justice, you embody justice.”

Editors Note: Emily Simons ’24 is a staff writer for the Orient.  


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