Miami's Humanities Center stimulates conversation by addressing race and racism with the Laptop Lecture Series

Written by Bethany Sersion, CAS communications intern

Miami University's Humanities Center has developed a new Laptop Lectures series this fall on race and racism. These online lectures are short videos recorded by faculty members in social isolation and connect humanities research to contemporary social challenges.

"There is an urgent need to address racial injustice at the local and national levels, said Pepper Stetler, associate director of the Humanities Center. "Humanities scholarship can provide essential perspectives on our country's ongoing struggle with racial inequality. Our series on Race and Racism builds on the first series that the Humanities Center produced in the spring on the COVID-19 pandemic."

Miami has recently renewed its commitment to confronting and combatting racism by assembling a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force earlier this year. See Miami's September 2020 press release President's task force proposes recommendations for improving diversity, equity and inclusion at Miami University.

Helane Androne

In addition to this Laptop Lecture series, the Humanities Center's John W. Altman Program will partner with the Office of the Provost during the 2021-2022 school year for the inaugural One Year/One Theme initiative. The focus will be on the theme of race, with the hope of serving the public with potential solutions to this long-standing issue by guiding comprehension and meaningful conversation.

Professor of English Helane Androne was featured in the first Laptop Lecture Series video on Race and Racism. "The layers of our current context have driven some to new visions about the world we need to build," she said. "Building an anti-racist future requires imagination, creativity, and space."

Naaborle Sackeyfio

"The dynamics of racial and racial justice are complicated," said assistant professor of global and intercultural studies Naaborle Sackeyfio. "The thrust of my work is relevant to understanding the circumstances that have given rise to this seismic shift and tipping point. Particular norms have shaped the dynamics of power and access in ways that have also amplified single-story narratives that only serve to disempower, dispossess and marginalize."

By gathering various perspectives and provoking discussion, the Humanities Center hopes to show how racism impacts the Miami community as a whole.

"It is critical that communication surrounding societal issues is present in order to uproot them," said Stetler. "The humanities can ground how we study, reflect on, and further act against racism."

Rodney Coates

"We live in a unique country that was started by a revolution, a revolution that protested freedom and justice and fairness," said Rodney Coates, professor of critical race and ethnic studies, referring to the power of the Black Lives Matter movement. "Now it seems that in 300 years we are still fighting the same fight; if their lives have no meaning, then whose lives do?"

For more information on the Humanities Center's 2021-2022 Altman Program: