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University News | 02.28.20

Black Author Series Elevates Black Voices and Promotes Discussions on Equity and Inclusion

The Adler University Center for Diversity and Inclusion recently launched the Black Author Series for the Chicago Campus. For the first event, Dexter R. Voisin, Ph.D., joined students, faculty, staff and administrators on January 23 to discuss his newly released book, America the Beautiful and Violent. The goals of the Black Author Series are to elevate Black voices by bringing prominent Black scholars to the Chicago campus and bring community members together across lines of difference to discuss diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice.

The Center also aims to promote continued education about issues that impact underserved populations and to expand dialogues around intersectionality, with the Black Author Series serving as one initiative that helps meet this goal.

Since joining Adler University in July 2019, Tamara A. Johnson, Ph.D., Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, has been listening to students, faculty, and staff and administrators across all three campuses to help inform what programs, trainings, resources, and policies, are needed to best serve the Adler University community. Each campus will ultimately have signature programs that are unique to their respective needs.

This program was created for the Chicago Campus after “community members articulated a desire to elevate Black voices specifically, as well as the expressed need for programming that attracts faculty, staff, and students across racial and ethnic identities to focus on issues impacting underrepresented communities,” Dr. Johnson said.

“Given Adler University’s mission, programming such as the Black Author Series, which brings together faculty, staff and students from all backgrounds, gives the Chicago Campus an opportunity to amplify marginalized voices and convene as a community to discuss important social justice issues,” she said.

During his presentation, where there was standing room only, Dr. Voisin explored the effects of community violence in Chicago on all residents, with a focus on the lived experiences of marginalized and under-resourced communities.

“Violence is a story about resources,” Dr. Voisin said. “The reality is the communities that are most in need are the communities that have been forgotten by funding sources and by politicians. Very often those communities are seen as communities in need, but they are not often seen as communities with incredible strengths, capital, and expertise that needs to be a part of the conversation.”

Chicago Campus student Izmane Jean-Luis said one thing that resonated with her from the presentation was that the book was informed by the voices of individuals from the community. “Hearing the experience from the actual individual’s point of view instead of from other people was very refreshing,” Jean-Louis said, adding that, “It is important to provide students with programming like this series, as it exposes students to diverse individuals within the work of psychology. And, it is especially impactful for them to know that people of color have contributed work such as this.”

“The feedback was so overwhelmingly positive following Dr. Voisin’s presentation, that numerous individuals asked if he would return after everyone had an opportunity to read his book.” Dr. Johnson said. “Given this, he has agreed to join us again on May 13 to continue the dialogue about the important concepts in his book.”

Following Dr. Voisin’s return, Celeste Watkins-Hayes, Ph.D., from Northwestern University will discuss her book Remaking a Life in the fall.

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