NMC Focuses on Social Equity

November 13, 2020

Kathryn DePauw

   Late last spring, the country erupted with outrage over the death of African-American George Floyd in Minneapolis. As protests escalated and spread around the world, even our small corner of Michigan felt the impacts. Local protests were held in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and local officials and others in power were called to answer for comments and opinions on the matter. In early June, NMC president Nick Nissley stated in a news release that he was creating the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee that would “focus solely on addressing inequities and injustices faced by our students, employees and the community.”
   The committee’s inaugural activity was United Way’s 21-Day Equity Challenge. According to United Way, the program “is designed to create dedicated time and space to build more effective social justice habits, particularly those dealing with issues of race, power, privilege, and leadership.”
   The self-guided program sent emails daily to registered students with lessons and links and required about 20-25 minutes a day. Each daily email included a quick summary of a specific aspect of systemic racism, with cited data, and a list of resources for recipients to explore further. Topics for the emails included subjects like housing, environmental racism, income inequality, education, childhood impacts, and LGBTQI+ discrimination. Participants were able to research their interests on each topic by using the included links. To keep it feeling fresh, interactive, and engaging, a wide variety of options including TED Talks, videos, articles, quizzes, audio clips, and interactive infographics were used.

Photo by NMC Public Relations

   Nissley and the DEI committee took the position early on that being against racism isn’t enough, and that we should all be actively “anti-racist.” Anti-racism training goes beyond denouncing racism and requires people to examine their own actions and privileges to better understand their role in society. Another key concept in this type of education is understanding our country’s history and the ways in which racism has evolved throughout history and in modern times.
   Impacts of racism are felt globally, nationally, and within our hometowns. As a community, we are all impacted by its effects and education is the place to begin addressing it. The 21-Day Equity Challenge is a first step in helping NMC, and the community at large, become actively anti-racist. This program (and others like it) hope individuals will stop asking “Why won’t someone do something?” and instead ask “What must I do?”.

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