Exploring Race and Social Justice Series

This event series explores the academic theme of race and social justice through a variety of topics. Each event is a little bit different and will include a brief presentation/framing and conversation about the topic and resources. These events are offered in tandem with the UMA course, INT/HON 188, which meets on Thursdays from 4 to 4:55 pm. Join us to learn more about race and social justice from UMA’s excellent professors!

For more information, disability accommodations, or to request the related materials to review before the event, please contact Sarah Hentges at sarah.hentges@maine.edu.

Zoom link for all events

February 10—Slavery in the American Criminal Justice System

The documentary, 13th explores Section One of 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution which states: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Sharon McMahon Sawyer (Justice Studies) will lead a discussion where we will discuss 13th and the relationship between this Amendment abolishing slavery in the United States and our current American criminal justice system.

February 17—Race & Racism After Genomics in U.S. Biomedicine

In this talk professor Kate Darling (Social Science/Sociology) discusses some of the ways that the molecular revolution has shifted concepts of race and ancestry among scientists, clinicians, and lay people. Race science has a long history in biomedicine. In our discussion, we’ll think through the ways we know race and racism in contemporary biomedicine.

February 24—Social Determinants of Health

Vickie Ireland (Nursing) will lead the discussion as we examine structural racism and poverty and how this contributes to inadequacies in health and wellness. We will also relate this information to rural populations and discuss Social Determinants of Health within the state of Maine.

March 3—Race and Social Justice in Ralph Ellison’s “Battle Royal”

Lisa Botshon (English) will lead a discussion on the short story “Battle Royal” by Ralph Ellison, which was first published in Horizon magazine in 1947. A slightly revised version of this short story became Part I of Ellison’s most famous work The Invisible Man, which came out in 1952. We will be reading this piece in conjunction with a Danforth Gallery show on The Invisible Man by Portland photographer Séan Alonzo Harris.

March 10—Art and Social Justice

Join Amy Rahn (Art) and special guest, Portland photographer Séan Alonzo Harris, as we discuss his work as well as his Danforth Gallery show on The Invisible Man. Harris’s work has been named by Maine Magazine as one of the “60 Most Collectible Artist in Maine” and has been featured by USA Today, LL Bean, Yankee Magazine, and Harvard Radcliffe Magazine, among others. He teaches Maine Media Workshops and a variety of collaborative, community-driven projects with nonprofit organizations. More information about Harris’s work can be found on his website.

March 24—Race and Social Justice Issues with Climate Change

Dr. Kati Corlew (Social Science/Psychology) will present research and implications regarding the human dimensions of climate change, with a particular focus on social justice, racial minorities, indigenous populations, and developing nations. Please be prepared to contribute to the Q&A and discussion session that follows.

March 31—Panel Discussion: New Mainer’s Public Health Initiative

Readings/Resources: please review New Mainers Public Health Initiative

Susan Baker (Biology) will chair this panel as Abdulkerim Said, director of New Mainers Public Health Initiative will talk about his work. Abdulkerim is a former student and UMA graduate. Jusuf Abdi, a local PA and UMA grad as well, may be willing to join him.

April 7—Penobscot Nation and Tribal Law

Judge Eric Mehnert and Magistrate Judge Rhonda Decontie will be joining us to share their experience and expertise concerning their work with the Penobscot Nation Tribal Court.

April 21—What Do You Stand For?

Justin Michael Williams argues that we are often fighting against racism when it is more productive to fight for the world that we imagine and envision. Sarah Hentges (American Studies) will lead this discussion as we consider how we move forward, as individuals and as a UMA community, and as a nation.

Readings/Resources: Justin Michael Williams, “Ending Racism: How to Change the World in One Generation”

April 28—Poetry for Social Justice: Reginald Dwayne Betts’ Felon

In anticipation of Reginald Dwayne Betts’ keynote reading at the Plunkett Poetry Festival on April 29, Noel Tague (English) will lead this session as we read and discuss his collection of poems, Felon. During class we’ll spend some time reading the poems aloud, connecting to earlier discussions in the semester about mass incarceration, and thinking about how poems can function as vehicles of resistance and change. We’ll also set aside some time to experiment with erasure poetry during class.