More than three decades after this commemoration day became reality, we continue to struggle to define and achieve inclusion, justice and equity.
As always, at a time like this, there is a question of where to focus…on how far we have come or on how far we have to go? I spent time yesterday reading about increasing gender, racial and socioeconomic disparities in education. Do I trumpet that? Or do I celebrate the fact that I can dine with whom I want, be with whom I want and hopefully my daughter can be anything she wants to be?
Maybe the challenge is that this rigid dichotomies are impractical and those who espouse one view or the other are too tied to their positions. Maybe reality for me, based on what my societal position is, radically differs from that of someone else with a very different societal position. How do we make room for that? And whose voice dominates or gets to define the narrative? If it is good for me, does that mean it is universal? If it is bad for me, does that mean everyone sucks or does not care or is not working hard? I struggle with these questions every day and still have no answers, but I am unrelentingly committed to continuing my pursuit.
So I issue a continued invitation to all of us, along our multiple identities and realities to engage in co conversation about what is- from different perspectives and different realities. And then I invite us to co create this new reality that we want. It is hard, long, tiring and often thankless work, but it is worthy and critical work. And it is work I believe higher education should be at the forefront of.
For me, that is how to honor the legacy of MLK, even as I recognize that the man and the message have been been reconstructed, sanitized and ‘commodified’.
In this spirit, on January 31st, from 9:30-4:30 in the Hauke Conference room, we will host a workshop, facilitated by community change, as a follow up to the Tim Wise event. More than 40 teachers, students from K-12; faculty from UVM, Champlain, St. Michael’s; staff, administrators and community leaders will spend the day trying to have a conversation about multiple realities and work towards creating the world they want in their spheres of influence.
I believe the workshop is almost at capacity, but if you are interested, please email Tami Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for all you do, every day, in many different ways to make room at the table for others, to use your power in service to others and to hold yourselves and others to the best that we are capable of.
Have a great one
PS. Jennifer Jang in Student diversity programming and Tami Brown in the office of diversity and inclusion have worked together to compile a list of MLK events in the area-THANK YOU. The list is attached and is all over campus. They will also be providing transportation to certain events. Please take advantage of these opportunities (hope you got to hear Jean too) and spread the word.
Ame Lambert , Chief Diversity Officer, Champlain College
See the events listing at this link. MLK 2014(1)