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Sunday, March 3, 2024
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School of Education holds virtual conference about uplifting women through antiracist teaching

The Summer Institute on Education, Equity and Justice hosts a series of webinars on education inequity

At the end of June, American University’s School of Education hosted a virtual conference through the Summer Institute on Education, Equity and Justice, which focused on uplifting women and girls of color through antiracist practices and policies. 

Established in 2018, the institute focuses on building a community that gives recognition and opportunity to young people of color and their communities. The theme of this year’s conference, titled “Uplifting Women & Girls of Color Through Antiracist Pedagogy, Practice & Policy,” was centered around inclusion within education. 

The conference was composed of nine webinar sessions spanning over the course of three days, with each session lasting an hour and a half, covering different aspects of women and girls of color within education. Some of the topics included “Criminalization of Young Girls of Color,” “Social Justice in Higher Education” and “Women & Mental Health in COVID-19.” 

Speakers such as Ibram X. Kendi, the former director of AU’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, and Camille Nelson, the dean of the Washington College of Law, led webinars. 

“The institute's workshops, conducted by experts in the field, focus on educational, legal and health implications for young girls of color. Sessions are designed to change both mindsets and practices,” according to the University’s website. 

A theme throughout the conference was the stereotyping of young, Black students who are unfairly disadvantaged within their education. In “Criminalization of Young Girls of Color,” Ashley Sawyer, the policy director at the Brooklyn-based Girls for Gender Equity, spoke about the importance of inclusion for all children throughout their education. 

“I believe deeply that Black children, youth of color, are entitled to and deserve to feel loved, cared for and supported, and I have a belief that schools should be sources of students learning critical thinking and should be places of liberation, rather than places of indoctrination,” Sawyer said. 

In “Women & Mental Health in COVID-19,” Norma L. Day-Vines, associate dean for faculty development at Johns Hopkins University, spoke on how the phrasing of events can impact people’s perceptions of what happened, using the coverage of the police killing of George Floyd as an example.

“When you think about all of the media attention, it was only recently that people … stopped using the passive voice. When we think about the passive voice, the passive voice is really woefully inadequate for talking about responsibility. When we use the active voice, however, we show who or what does the action, who or what is acting upon the object,” Day-Vines said.

 Hosts Sara Winick and Sydney Hsu introduce themselves and talk about their favorite TV shows. This episode includes fun facts, recommendations and personal connections. 

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