Diversity Committee hosts weekend-long event to discuss racism


Photo Courtesy of Jessie Carney Smith

Jessie Carney Smith is the dean of the library at Fisk University and will be a keynote speaker talking about conquering racism on April 27.

The University’s School of Information Sciences’ Diversity Committee will be hosting a free, weekend-long event with programs about racism in the school and workplace.

The creators of the event call it INDABA, the Zulu word for a gathering that deliberates. The topic to be discussed is “Conquering Racism.”

The interactive panels will feature University faculty members, as well as guests from Montclair State University and the University of Alabama. The panelists are expected to speak about racial and ethnic violence and how they have conquered racism in the workplace.

A variety of alumni from nearby were invited to keep costs low, to make a critical mass and to let midwesterners be heard for a change, Kate Williams, associate professor of Information Sciences said in an email.

“Our school is more white, counting the faculty and especially the students. Bias incidents continue. Hate campaigns have been mounted against faculty who study racism and the alternatives. We have to talk about turning this around.”

The main speakers at the event are people who are successful alumni of color. They will talk about their experiences with racial violence and discrimination and how we can change things moving forward.

Jessie Carney Smith will be the featured keynote speaker, beginning the weekend with “A Conversation with Jessie Carney Smith.”  

“Not speaking as lecturers but in conversation. This can help current students of color and really anyone,” Williams said. “White students can come and shed their soft racism, the unacknowledged privilege that keeps this situation intact and get more ideas on changing the world.”

Williams said to be a part of the solution, people need to attend the event.

“As I read on a church sign in Urbana today, ‘Truth, like surgery, may hurt, but it also cures’,” Williams said.

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