The 13th annual Ray Warren Symposium on Race and Ethnic Studies
will address how racial and ethnic identities shape our senses of home and belonging. The symposium, which runs November 9 through 11, is organized by students committed to engaging the Lewis & Clark community and beyond in a thoughtful critical dialogue on race.
In an age of increasing cultural alienation and rhetoric that is intended to divide, how do we go about bridging the gaps and confronting the new racialized conditions we live in? In one of the whitest cities in America, how are Black Portlanders defining their own narratives? And how does “ethnic food” in the Portland food scene come into play?
Associate Professor With Term of Humanities Kimberly Brodkin, longtime faculty director of the Ray Warren Symposium (and the Gender Studies Symposium in the spring) hopes that the programming will “provide a foundation for people to understand some of these issues, and leave with a framework and context for understanding ongoing debates or emerging questions, whether on our campus, in Portland, or elsewhere in the world.”
“Home: Race, Place, and Belonging,” kicks off Wednesday evening with an evening panel discussion on Portland housing and gentrification. The keynote speaker on Thursday evening is Jeff Chang, executive director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University and cofounder of CultureStr/ke and Colorlines. Chang, a cultural critic and author, will examine how the current social climate has impacted our sense of place and ushered us into a time of resegregation.
The annual symposium offers undergraduate students the opportunity to orchestrate a major academic event. To co-chair Mikeala Owen ’17, it provided the experience of contributing to “one of the most intellectually stimulating” and “illuminating” events on campus, and co-chair Lesedi Khabele-Stevens ’17 found that “this year’s theme of ‘home’ has been particularly exciting…. because of the relationship between personal and political. A symposium on home provides space to talk about trauma and healing, hurt and joy.”
Symposium co-chair Lani Felicitas ’18 is looking forward to the Jeff Chang keynote lecture. “To hear him speak on belonging and community in the era of Black Lives Matter will amplify the work being done all over the nation,” said Felicitas, “so we can all feel like we belong to one another.”
The symposium will close with the annual Race Monologues, where each year a different group of Lewis & Clark students shares original, personal stories and understandings of racial identity. Alumni routinely return to campus for the signature event.
For a full schedule of speakers and events visit the symposium’s website.
This story was written by Scout Brobst ’20.
Ethnic Studies Department