Eastern Kentucky University freshman Illyana Walker visited the campus on the weekend of Feb. 22 in the hopes of finding the tools to combat racism.
She was one of 67 people who attended the fourth annual “Undoing Racism” workshop organized by Students Together Against Racism. Walker, who teaches pre-school in Richmond, Ky. said she hopes to learn different ways she can teach her fellow students at EKU and her pre-school children to fight against racism.
“I want to broaden my horizons,” she said. “I am trying to add this to my curriculum.”
STAR brought two people from the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond in New Orleans to moderate the three-day workshop. The PISB conducts similar workshops all over the United States.
Those that attended ranged from faculty, staff, students and concerned citizens interested in being more vocal against injustice and racism, said Emily Mihou, president of STAR and sophomore at NKU. Mihou said the workshop helps community organizers come to a concrete definition of what racism is and helps find ways to eliminate discrimination from society.
“It has been an umbrella for other social actions and helps us build bonds with community leaders,” Mihou said.
Defining racism is very important, said Dan Buford, a core trainer from the PISB.
“If you went to 50 people and asked for a definition of racism, you would get 50 different answers,” Buford said.
The workshop wasn’t only for vocal, anti-racist leaders, Buford said.
Learning the root causes of racism and how to stop it is valuable for any person, he said.
“It isn’t always the Martin Luther King stuff, the grandiose stuff, that fights racism,” Buford said. “Sometimes it is more subtle.”
Buford, who has visited colleges all over the country, said the students at NKU work harder than most Universities at promoting diversity.
“NKU is an example of an institution that can address these issues,” Buford said. “It would be in the leadership and other campuses can benefit from its example.”
The students at NKU are effective at recruiting others to be anti-racist, said Dr. Michael Washington, director of African American Studies at NKU.
“There is a core number of students involved, and it is a number that is increasing,” Washington said.
Walker said she was impressed with the student groups on campus and hopes to start a group similar to STAR at EKU.