UW News

May 13, 2022

‘Resistance Through Resilience’: Conference highlights compassion-based practices to interrupt racism

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The seventh annual Center for Communication, Difference and Equity Conference, “Resistance Through Resilience,” will be held in collaboration with the University of Washington Resilience Lab on May 18 and 19.CCDE

The seventh annual Center for Communication, Difference and Equity (CCDE) Conference, “Resistance Through Resilience,” will be held in collaboration with the University of Washington Resilience Lab (UWRL).

The two-day conference will consist of listening sessions, workshops and a spotlight panel. This year’s theme builds off last year’s event, “Quarantining While Black.”

“What we started to hear overwhelmingly from those who were involved in the ‘Quarantining While Black’ project was that they were exhausted,” said Ralina Joseph, CCDE director and UW communication professor, “and that they needed other ways to help take care of themselves and their community members.”

With that in mind, Joseph and Resilience Lab director Megan Kennedy started discussing how to bring contemplative practices into anti-racist work. A grant from the Mind & Life Institute, a nonprofit based in Virginia that was co-founded by the Dalai Lama, the CCDE and the Resilience Lab to unite and address those issues.

The CCDE/UWRL “Resistance Through Resilience” Conference will take place May 18 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and May 19 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. The event will be held over Zoom, and those interested can register for sessions here.

The “Resistance Through Resilience” training and speaker series brings together leaders on campus and in the community to focus on mindfulness and compassion-based practices as tools for interrupting racism.

For months, those thoughts leaders have engaged in conversations about resistance and resilience, said jas moultrie, a doctoral student in communication and a CCDE research assistant. Heading into the conference, she’s most excited for the opportunity to reflect on those discussions.

“Resisting is tiring work,” moultrie said. “The point of this conversation is to have the opportunity to say, ‘How do we tend to ourselves through the work? How do we tend to our bodies? How do we tend to be present in those moments?’ How do we say to ourselves, ‘I want to affect change in my communities, but I also want to take care of myself?’”

Kennedy said working with the CCDE was a chance for the Resilience Lab to think deliberately about racism and how to address it: with a set of practices designed to help people build dialogue.

“I think we are really in the moment where we’re needing these types of skills to not just think about, ‘How I disrupt this moment of microaggression,’ but also, ‘What do I do with the surging anxiety that happens before and afterward?’” Joseph said. “I hope people will leave the conference feeling like they have some skills in that area.”

The conference will open May 18 with two online sessions. The morning session, “Everyday Microaggressions, Everyday Awareness” will serve as a primer on the forms of lived discrimination. The afternoon session will be: “The Power of Inquiry: Introducing Questioning as the First Anti-Racism Tool for Interrupting Microaggressions.”

“Given what we know about college, mental health and well-being, we know that BIPOC students are experiencing high rates of mental health struggles,” Kennedy said. “That points to social factors like the climate and culture and experiences of imposter syndrome, discrimination and microaggressions.”

On May 19, four community leaders will participate in an afternoon spotlight panel. The speakers are Aggie Briscoe, an information systems retiree who grew up in Texas during the Jim Crow era; India Ornelas, acting chair and associate professor in the Department of Health Systems and Population Health at the UW; Jaye Sablan, assistant director of graduate student affairs in the UW Graduate School; and Marsha Rule, retired editor of UW Medicine Newsroom.

“The way that we do our work matters,” Kennedy said. “Part of resisting is working collaboratively rather than at cross purposes with one another toward common outcomes. I think coming together is part of how we’re going to create better outcomes for students and all of us. How we work together matters.”

The conference is sponsored by the Mind & Life Institute, the UW’s Diversity and Inclusion Seed Grants, the UW Department of Communication and the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.