The LGBTQ+ Culture Center at IU is presenting a 12-part series throughout the 2020-21 school year called Intersections which will focus on the intersections within the LGBTQ+ community, including race, gender, ability, socioeconomic status and more.
Bruce Smail, interim director for the LGBTQ+ Culture Center and special assistant to the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs, introduced the series at IU. He said he wanted to create a space for discussion to focus on how the LGBTQ+ community is intersectional. Intersectionality attempts to understand how aspects of a person’s identity, such as age, ability, gender, religion and race create levels of privilege or discrimination.
The LGBTQ+ Culture Center decided to focus specifically on race in the fall sessions and on other intersections in the spring. The second session of the series is Wednesday from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. and will focus on implementing an anti-racist agenda at IU.
Smail said there was a good turnout of participants at the first session. The virtual format of these sessions gives an opportunity for people on all IU campuses to participate, he said.
One of the roles of the LGBTQ+ Culture Center is to educate, Smail said. He said this series gives people an opportunity to talk about issues facing the LGBTQ+ community in an intersectional way and look at how those problems affect all communities.
Smail said he hopes the series will increase dialogue around race with local and national issues as well as current issues on campus. Participants during the sessions are welcome to send in written questions as well, he said.
“It creates an open opportunity for the campus to be engaged in discussion,” Smail said.
Many speakers for the series are people Smail has previously worked with in professional fields, he said. A variety of local and national leaders have been invited to speak during the series.
On Wednesday, the speakers will be Lemuel Watson, associate vice president for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs and Dr. James Wimbush, vice president for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs.
Watson said he believes the importance of the Intersections series is to help people feel comfortable with all the different identities they may possess and to create a space for sincere dialogue to take place.
The backgrounds and experiences of the speakers provides an opportunity to discuss difficult topics, Watson said. One goal of the series is to understand how to build bridges between identities and work together to build a better community at IU and in the world, he said.
Watson said he hopes participants at his talk on Wednesday will understand how daily activities can build stronger communities which calls out things that are biased, prejudiced and racist, but also to understand why people might feel that way.
“Before we can create major changes, we have to understand each other and see each other as humans,” Watson said. “We all have a shared experience, yet we all have vastly different experiences.”
Watson said he thinks we need to do a better job at calling out injustice and holding people accountable. He said his greatest fear is after all the work this country has done to implement anti-racist agendas, no justice will be done.
A lot of people are suffering across the country for a variety of reasons, including racism and discrimination, and it is important to ensure no one is left behind, Watson said.
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