Campus Inclusion and Community launches webinar, pop up discussions

Mustafa Alimumal, Reporter

To mark the beginning of Campus Inclusion and Community’s new webinar, CIC Talks, members of Social Justice Education led the first video discussion on Oct. 21 in which they tackled issues of race, identity and respect.

The video, which was followed by a student-led discussion hosted by Sustained Dialogue on Oct. 26 — the first “Pop Up” event of the year — addressed the inherent dangers and racism behind cultural appropriation.

The goal of CIC Talk is to tackle complex social issues that affect students and community members in a safe environment that promotes discussion and open-mindedness, Khalid Ismail, a graduate assistant in Multicultural Student Affairs, said in the video. Ismail led the webinar along with Michele Enos and Noor Ali, assistant directors of Social Justice Education.

“CIC Talk is a new program that Campus Inclusion and Community is launching this year,” Ismail told The Daily. “This program is meant to be an avenue for engagement with current issues of social justice and inclusion. The live webinar format allows for students to tune in, ask questions and start the conversation with us.”

Ismail said the timing of the Oct. 21 webinar was intentional with Halloween coming up, but cultural appropriation is an ever-relevant topic.

“There are many forms of cultural appropriation that take place every day of the year, and impact the lives of communities here in the U.S, and all over the world,” he said. “So, really, anytime is the right time for this conversation to happen.”

The CIC team discussed how to deal with cultural appropriation and what constitutes cultural appropriation. Enos offered a concrete definition of cultural appropriation and how it relates to racism.

“Cultural appropriation really is a form of racism,” she said. “Cultural appropriation is the act of taking the very physical, mental or social features of a marginalized group and using them to belittle, mischaracterize, and otherwise isolate them while embodying those features for personal/social entertainment or monetary gain.”

SESP junior Matt Herndon told The Daily that CIC has impacted his views on social justice both at Northwestern and in the rest of the world.

Herndon said he has learned a lot from working with CIC, specifically under Sustained Dialogue.

“I have come a long way in my understanding of social justice and learning through these, and I still have a long way to go,” he said.

Herndon said people, no matter their level of expertise, can always learn more about these issues and how they affect the NU community.

“Cultural appropriation is a huge issue at Northwestern and at other college campuses,” he said. “Besides just happening on Halloween and costumes, with students and faculty and administration, it happens in daily practices. It is a continued form of oppression against people with marginalized identities.”

In an email to The Daily, Ali said she hoped this program will help students be smarter citizens and make it easier to create spaces of inclusion.

“This specific program was aimed at cultural appropriation, and while we see this so often, I believe most students have no idea what they are doing and how it is harmful to others,” she said. “There’s a larger system at play here and unless we begin to unpack the effects of that, people just think it’s all fun and games.”

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