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Starting conversations at the 2020 Diversity Conference

One of several signs which hang in Elizabeth Hall, each a response to the white nationalist flyers recently posted and then removed. (Joshua Wineholt / The Signpost)
One of several signs which hang in Elizabeth Hall, each a response to the white nationalist flyers recently posted and then removed. (Joshua Wineholt / The Signpost) Photo credit: Signpost Archives

The 22nd Annual WSU Diversity Conference was held virtually Oct. 1 and 2. The theme focused on connections and disconnections in society with oppressed populations.

There was an opening keynote presentation by Pepper Glass, an associate sociology professor at WSU, who has published research on many topics such as racial inequality and social movements.

There were several sessions and presentations given by WSU faculty and people who work around Ogden. The closing keynote presentation was from Tim Wise, a public speaker who goes around high school and college campuses to talk about systemic racism and how to dismantle it.

According to the diversity program’s website, the events were chosen with intent to “explore ways and opportunities where we can align what we say with what we do, and look for the connections or disconnects that allow things to happen.”

One of the discussion events, Being a Person of Color in 2020, was presented by JuanCarlos Santisteban and Greg Noel, who are both counselors at the WSU Counseling & Psychological Services Center.

Noel says the focus of the panel discussion was on the social climate of 2020, and then looking at that climate from the lens of Black, Indigenous and people of color.

Participants were encouraged to share their experiences about everything that has happened so far in 2020.

“Greg and I both believe that conversing about these things is how we start our healing, and having conversations about this is what helps create understanding, clarity and eventually unity because it brings us all together,” Santisteban said.

Participants shared their experiences and then gave advice to one another throughout the discussion.

Other topics in the discussion were engaging with one another, showing up with one another in spaces, discrimination, being your authentic self, being an ally, empathy and learning and growing.

“The more we create these spaces where we can have these conversations, that’s where we’re going to gain understanding and we’re going to start to see each other and see each other’s hearts,” Santisteban said. “At the end of the day our hearts all pump the same way.”

At the end of the discussion, Santisteban encouraged participants to continue tapping into their courage to continue having these conversations.

“This is how we’re going to heal, understand and create unity — by continuing to have these conversations,” Santisteban said.

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