UNI NEWS SERVICES - A new University of Northern Iowa program launching today aims to spark community conversation about racial injustice and systemic change.
The program, Cultivating Justice: A Quest Toward Racial Equity, is sponsored by the Office of the Provost and starts Jan. 25. Through an emailed weekly newsletter, it will expose participants to new issues and ideas, as well as local resources. Participants can register online.
“We’re hoping that this project will really challenge how people think and prompt some self-reflection about social and racial issues that people might not be aware of,” said Danielle McGeough, a UNI professor of Communication and Media who is spearheading the project. “The materials in this program will help guide participants to cultivate habits of consciously and consistently practicing anti-racism and start to take action towards change.”
For six weeks, the project will release a weekly newsletter that includes essays, videos, performances, artwork, music, podcasts, toolkits, events, and more, along with questions for individuals or groups to contemplate and answer afterwards. McGeough said that it will take about two hours each week to consume and reflect on the material.
Among many materials and resources, the program will include a spoken-word performance by Yaw Kyeremateng, a UNI alumnus and 2013 Homecoming King, which explores reactions to his West African accent, code-switching, and the dissonance of existing in the space between his Ghanian ancestral roots and his Americanized speech.
Other weeks will feature artwork from UNI first year Studio Art major Tevka Lackmann, which honors the lives of Elijah McClain, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and calls for continued conversations to end police brutality and racial inequity. .
The program will also include a video from the 2020 Cedar Valley Fashion, Art, and Culture Expo that celebrates black creatives and innovators and showcases Black arts through music, clothing lines, dance and more.
“This project is going to bring together a whole bunch of people who all believe this work is important, and some of them are excited and some are fearful,” said Marcy Seavey, UNI STEM coordinator, who contributed to the project. “Some are looking for help and others are trying to figure out how to help.
“For some, this is their everyday work and for others it will be new. Some need to be heard and some need to listen. I think the project will open up new partnerships and collaborations, but also it will be inspiring to see how many people step-up and participate.”
Steve Schmadeke, UNI public relations manager, 319-273-6120, firstname.lastname@example.org