More than 60 Attend Winter Workshop on Racial Equity in Policy and Planning

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By Izzy Jacques

On January 26th, UEP’s Racial Equity in Policy and Planning program (REPP)  hosted the inaugural Winter Workshops, bringing together a diverse group of 60+ students, faculty, staff, alumni, and practitioners. Held at the Curtis Hall, the event provided training on how to navigate the interpersonal aspects of DEIJAB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice, Access, and Belonging). Throughout the day, there were spaces for open dialogue, shared experiences, and collective growth.

Led by Allentza Michel, the opening DEI Session set the tone for the day, providing basic DEIJAB terms and concepts. Dr. Neenah Estrella-Luna facilitated the morning workshop, leading attendees through the interpersonal aspects of DEIJAB work. Her presentation focused on bias – what it is, how it manifests in our communities, and how to navigate bias through intervention tactics. We practiced real-life scenarios from the perspectives of the offender, the offended and the bystander. This practical application was particularly helpful for attendees, providing time to practice skills.

During lunch, we enjoyed food from Fresh Food Generation while listening to remarks from Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Bárbara Brizuela. Following these remarks, artist and poet Jean-Dany Joachim engaged with the audience through a reading of 3 poems relating to the immigrant experience.

After lunch there were three breakout sessions:

  1. Redefining “Allyship”: Education towards Action
  2. Navigating DEIJ In the Professional Space
  3. Becoming an Equity Agent: Internal and External Shifts

During session one led by UEP alum Fran Smith, participants explored the concept of “whiteness” in the US and ways to become better allies and champions for racial justice. Session 2, featured a panel discussion with Jennifer Lawrence, Executive Director of the Sasaki Foundation, Tufts UEP faculty Penn Loh, and Josh Durando, Manager of Workplace Experiences at Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH). In the third session, participants were invited to engage in conversation discussing how systemic racism impacts individuals and society.

This Winter Workshop served as a reminder that both the education and work need to continue on racial equity in policy and planning. REPP plans to host the Winter Workshop each year. Look for the next REPP Gathering, which is being scheduled for May 2024.