Gearing up for next year’s Race and Pedagogy Initiative

On Nov. 13, Professor Dexter Gordon gave a talk as a precursor to the Race and Pedagogy Initiative that will take place on campus next Sept. 25-27. This conference takes place every four years and is always open to the community and campus.

Gordon’s talk, “Impertinent Relations in the Liberal Arts—Our critical moment, race, pedagogy and community,” was a collaborative work between himself and Professor Grace Livingston. The work is still in the process of being put together, but that did not undermine the message that came across in the speech.
“I hope that as a result of what I share and what we discuss today, we may move the dialogue, even just incrementally, forward on the question of justice, and particularly on the question of race and justice,” Gordon said.

The conference will discuss the various ways in which our campus, curriculum and community think about and approach the topic of race and how it applies to us. The Initiative hopes to open dialogues and conversations on topics that would otherwise be uncomfortable to bring up in everyday conversation, but that need to be addressed.
“I think that it’s important for students to be aware that they do have white privilege,” junior Kara Klepinger said. Klepinger is working to document the process and events of the Initiative. “As a campus community, we try and be very inclusive and open to all different types of people, but that doesn’t change the fact that our campus does have a startling majority of Caucasian students. The idea of what that means for the community and our campus is just one of the many discussion topics that will be addressed in the Initiative.”

“I believe we ought to live fully engaged in the community in every facet of our community’s life,” Gordon said.
It is especially important to remember that all levels of the entire Tacoma community will be involved in this discussion, as the topic of race is relevant not just to our campus, but on a more global scale as well.
“I was surprised that I haven’t heard about it, and I really wanted to get involved,” Klepinger said.
While the event is open to the community, it is a rare opportunity for students to get involved and make a difference in their campus life.
“I think the University of Puget Sound provides a really good education but I think a part of the education is becoming more aware of our surroundings and understand that it’s not perfect,” Klepinger said.

The Race and Pedagogy Initiative will challenge students and faculty alike to think about where we live. The preconceptions that one has will be brought to light and discussed and solutions will be presented. Overall, the experience will prove to be an eye-opening, engaging and life-changing experience for all involved.
“There are a lot of different ways that students can get involved. There is going to be a section where students can give presentations about different research about different issues involving race. Students are needed on committees for getting the event organized. There are a lot of components involved in putting this event on. More so than anything with getting involved, I think that students should plan on attending,” Klepinger said.

Students who are interested in becoming involved in the Initiative or just want to keep updated on the talks and presentations relevant to the Initiative can join their email list at: raceandpedagogy@pugetsound.edu.