November 02, 2020

Annual Ray Warren Symposium Addresses Race and Movement

This year’s Ray Warren Symposium on Race and Ethnic Studies, which will run from November 11 to 13, focuses on the concept of movement and the systems of power that determine our mobility. For the first time, the symposium will be held entirely online, free and open to all, including those living outside of Portland.

In a year with an unusual demand for enclosure, the annual Ray Warren Symposium on Race and Ethnic Studies will center around a concept that many of us have taken for granted: movement. From November 11 to 13, the symposium will host panels, presentations, and performances from this lens, open to those from within the Lewis & Clark community and beyond.

While the symposium has existed for 17 years, this will be the first time that all events are fully accessible to the public via Zoom. It has been a unique experience for the five student cochairs involved in every aspect of organizing the symposium: Eduardo Beltran BA ’22, Kasia Enriquez BA ’21, Shalini Hanstad BA ’22, Immanuel Harice BA ’22, and Samantha Hernandez BA ’21.

The five were chosen for their positions in January, months before the first wave of COVID-19 shut-downs. They began preparations in April with the knowledge that this year’s event would have to adapt and accommodate for public health measures. Preserving the integrity of the symposium through these changes was a priority.

“We all applied to be cochairs because of how deeply passionate we are about the Ray Warren Symposium,” says Beltran, a sociology and anthropology major from Los Angeles, California. “It’s bittersweet in the sense that we can’t have it in person, but it also means that we have increased accessibility. The events can be experienced in real time across the country.”

The symposium begins Wednesday evening with the first keynote speaker, composer JJJJJerome Ellis, who will explore Blackness, music, and disabled speech through creative storytelling. His performance is one that Hanstad, a sociology and anthropology major from Seattle, Washington, believes will expand and deepen the meaning of the theme.

“He took our idea of movement and made it his own,” she says. “I’m expecting that his presentation will open everyone’s eyes to ways that movement can be interpreted and ways that disability, race, poetry, and music can intersect.”

Jason De León, the second keynote speaker, presents Thursday evening on the political violence of migrant death along the U.S.–Mexico border. De León is a professor of anthropology and Chicana/o studies at University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and the director of the Undocumented Migration Project, a long-term anthropological analysis of border crossings between Northern Mexico and Southern Arizona. In 2017, De León received a MacArthur “Genius Grant” for his scholarship.

Harice, a sociology and anthropology major from Los Angeles, cites the panel on “Black Diasporic Motherhood” as a highlight of this year’s symposium, something that he says is “part of the contemporary moment.” The panel will examine maternal experiences in an anti-Black society, featuring scholars from the University of San Diego and the University of Oregon who are able to participate with the new virtual format.

As is tradition, the symposium will close with the Race Monologues, an event that allows Lewis & Clark students to share personal narratives of race, identity, injustice, and resistance.

Just a week after the presidential election, and in a year of reckoning on the national legacy of racism, the symposium intends to use the cultural moment to create new dialogues on race and encourage substantive change within the Lewis & Clark community.

“The Ray Warren Symposium has always served as an event that synthesizes so many conversations that we can and should be having about race and racial justice,” says Beltran. “But moving forward, it’s about more than conversations. It’s about how those conversations inspire you to go and undertake palpable and specific action to better these communities and society in general.”

A detailed list of events and speakers can be found online.

Ethnic Studies
Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement