Allies at MIIS

The Fall 2018 student core group of Allies at MIIS, an initiative of the Center for Conflict Studies, has four students – Jacob Dwyer, Gina Pham, Óscar Cejudo Corbalán, and Emily Hoang. I continue to lead the group in my capacity as the Director of the Center, and we have spent many hours this semester reflecting on issues related to identity-related discrimination.

I am incredibly proud of their hard work, commitment, and achievements. Here is our short report for Fall 2018.

We met every Tuesday for about three to four hours each time and read an average of 25 articles per week. The topics we studied and reflected on this semester include Misrepresentation in the Media, Tone Policing, Double Standards in Language, Food Elitism, Privilege and Mental Health, the Model Minority/ Immigrant, Trauma Appropriation, Lookism, and Code Switching.

In keeping with our values, we regularly told each other of the times we failed to be allies and received encouragement, advice, and tips from others in the group — a process we all agree has been invaluable.

The core group is also responsible for organizing and facilitating a series of dialogue and discussion forums on our campus. This semester, we hosted three OPEN discussions. These discussions, framed as a dialogue between faculty, staff, and students, are an excellent opportunity for self and community reflection. Our challenge, as in the past, has been community participation in these discussions — very few to no faculty attend, and the students and staff who attend are from the same select group. The OPEN discussions are a unique opportunity for student-faculty-staff exchange, and we sincerely hope there will be more diverse participation in these dialogue events.

The topics for our three OPEN discussions were Tone Policing (12 participants), Model Minority/Immigrant (23 participants), and Code Switching (17 participants). The rich conversations we had, together with additional resources, were sent out as recaps after every event to the community. In our Reading Club, we read Reni Eddo-Lodge’s book Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race and opened our discussion to members of the Monterey community. We had 17 participants for this event, and we think both members of the MIIS and Monterey community benefited from the exchange.

Our big showcase event this semester was a special student-faculty-staff exchange on “Knowledge.” Framed as part of a larger discussion on Decolonizing Knowledge, the event brought together over 60 members of the MIIS community. Arranged in a fishbowl-style discussion, 32 faculty, staff, and students explored the creation, building, and dissemination of knowledge at MIIS. It was, without a doubt, a significant conversation for everyone involved and brought forward demands for more. We hope to continue this exchange in the Spring semester.

Thank you to all who have joined us for our events this semester. Please join us next semester as Allies at MIIS continues to work for racial equity and inclusion on our campus.