Speaker to address racial climate

Posted on Mar 31 2016 - 7:12am by Annabelle Knef

Deepa Iyer will be the keynote speaker for the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation keynote address. (Courtesy: Deepaiyer.com)

Activist and author Deepa Iyer will focus on today’s racial climate and how it affects various minority groups during the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation keynote address today.

The lecture, titled “Imagining Justice in Today’s Racial Climate,” will be at 4:30 p.m. in the Lamar Hall Auditorium.
Susan M. Glisson, a William Winter Institute senior fellow on reconciliation and the institute’s founding director, said she hopes Iyer will raise awareness of the challenges facing under-represented demographic groups. The Winter Institute is a UM organization committed to social and economic justice.
According to Glisson, Iyer’s activism has been a driving force for social justice in many ways. As a senior fellow at the Center of Social Inclusion, Iyer analyzes racial equity and how it has changed in American history.
Prior to working at the Center of Social Inclusion, Iyer served as the director of the organization South Asian Americans Leading Together. During her time with the organization , Iyer helped form the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations, which is a network of local South Asian groups. Iyer was also chair of the National Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans.
Following Iyer’s keynote address, she will sign her book, “We Too Sing America: South Asian, Arab, Muslim and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future.” Published in November 2015, the book contextualizes racism over the last decade.
Iyer’s keynote address is a free event open to students, faculty and Oxford community members.
Glisson encouraged students to attend and said they could learn how to help create an equitable future for all by doing so.
“Students today will be living in a new America, one more diverse and robust than previous generations,” Glisson said. “Our founding principles embrace such diversity in the midst of democracy, but we have not always lived out those ideals.”
Jennifer Stollman, the William Winter Institute’s academic director of racial reconciliation, said the university is very fortunate to host Iyer as a guest and speaker.
Stollman said she wants students to interact with the activist and author.
“Deepa will encourage students to become more involved,” Stollman said.
Stollman said she anticipates Iyer will help raise awareness on various social issues. She said, in addition to speaking on racism toward African American groups, Iyer will likely focus on social justice for Muslim, Arab, and Asian groups in the United States.
The Lamar Hall Auditorium seats around 150 people; Stollman said she expects a great turnout for Iyer’s speech.
Stollman said the William Winter Institute has brought many scholars to UM to speak on social justice. The Institute also hosts regular anti-oppression workshops. She said she has noticed an increase in race relations activism among students, and said they are “really paying attention.”

Kei Mamiya, sociology graduate student and Winter Institute intern, said he is very excited to hear Iyer speak.

“I believe that her keynote here would be helpful for many people on campus to broaden the idea of racial and ethnic issues at the University of Mississippi beyond the black and white paradigm,” Mamiya said.