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Equity & Difference: Keeping the Conversation Going

 | Published on 12/11/2015

Jan. 14

What’s the difference with “difference”?

Ralina L. Joseph

Director, CCDE, associate professor, department of communication, University of Washington


Today, we often employ the word “difference” as a catch-all word when we talk about race, gender, and sexuality. Difference replaces—or rather revises—‘diversity’, ‘multiculturalism’, or a long-connected string of descriptors such as race, gender, sexuality, class, nationality, and ability. But what does this shift in language mean and why is it significant for the ways in which we assess, inhabit, and perhaps even change our world? How does the Black Lives Matter movement illustrate our need to turn to difference, just as All Lives Matter illustrates the impossibility of indifference today? Can difference, instead of diversity, provide campus activists with a means to fight microaggression and structural racism?  Join Ralina Joseph as we discuss why words matter and how identity descriptions change over time.

Jan. 21

I’ll make a man out of you: Redefining strong female characters 

Anita Sarkeesian

Media critic, creator,
$5, Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue


There has been a significant increase in the number of television shows and movies that showcase female action heroes, challenging and transforming the historical representations of women. But are these truly examples of “Strong Female Characters,” or do they simply replicate traditional masculine archetypes in a sexualized, female body?

In this lecture, Anita Sarkeesian deconstructs the “Strong Female Character,” and argues for a better approach to how women are portrayed in media, one that breaks out of oppressive interpretations of gender and supports feminist values to promote a more just society.

Feb. 4

Freedom, religion and racism in Jewish-Muslim encounters

Mehnaz Afridi

Assistant professor of religious studies and director of the Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center at Manhattan College


Issues of anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe and America occupy a persistent place in politics and conversations. From the Charlie Hebdo murders in France to the backlash against Syrian refugees and the perennial conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, there is no shortage of global discussion on religious freedom and Jewish-Muslim relations.

In this lecture, Dr. Afridi discusses how the state of religious freedom in Europe is affecting the lives of Jews and Muslims today, and argues that the ideal — and perhaps only — venue for a Jewish-Muslim dialogue is here in the United States.

Feb. 10

More than mascots! Less than citizens? American Indians talk: Why isn’t the U.S. listening?

K. Tsianina Lomawaima

Professor, school of social transformation, Arizona State University


If the current debate over the name of a certain NFL team in our nation’s capital is any indication, many have not yet gotten the message regarding the harmful effects of ethnic stereotyping.

Why is willful ignorance about American Indian realities so deeply entrenched and passionately defended? Key answers are embedded in early 20th century federal court cases and legislation, including the 1924 Indian Citizenship Act. Tracing the history of U.S. debates over the status of Native people illuminates the challenges and opportunities that surviving, thriving Native peoples pose for U.S. society.

Feb. 23

Doing race better: Race and the reform of urban schools

Charles M. Payne 

Professor, school of social service administration, The University of Chicago


An increasingly common topic in our cultural conversation, issues of race are largely ignored as a consideration in the policies that shape urban schools and school systems. Professor Payne explores how taking race more fully into account may allow us to shape more powerful educational practices and adequately address social inequity.

Note that Kwame Toure is coming in April.  He is the former Stokeley Carmichael.  He gave a rousing speech at Garfield HS in the 1960s.  I would have found the speech quite radical at the time.  Now I believe he was right on point.

Coming soon from the Equity & Difference series:

 Tues. April 5, 2016

Microaggression: Power, privilege and everyday life

Touré, journalist, culture critic, co-host of “The Cycle” on MSNBC

 Wed. May 18, 2016

I’m coming out: Sexual orientation and gender identity in the U.S.

Marieka M. Klawitter, co-editor, Journal of Public Affairs Education; professor of public policy and governance, Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Washington

UWAA and UWRA members receive advance registration for the series! Not a member? Join today!

For more information, contact the UW Alumni Association at 206-543-0540 or